This is a topographical surname of Olde English pre 7th century origins. Recorded in the spellings of First, Ferst, Furse, Furst, Furze, Fursan, Furslan, and Fursland, it translates as 'one who lives by the furze or gorse', or possibly at a place called 'Furze'. As gorse or furze was to be found in most parts of the British Isles at that time, the meaning was clearly more specific. It probably described the reverse, that is to say an area formerly of gorse which was cleared for agriculture, or more specific still, 'furse' was used as a defensive wall, either by being cut and laid in a suitable manner or even grown as a hedge to keep out invaders or keep in the cattle. There are many places called Furse Hill, mainly in the south of England, and there is even a Furse Island, this being one of the famous islands of Poole Harbour in Dorset. Early examples of the surname recording include Matilda atte Furzan in the Somerset Rolls of the year 1272, although this is not a hereditary spelling form, and Robert de la Furse of Devon in 1273. Catherine Fuers was christened at St Botolphs church, Bishopgate, London on October 15th 1606, Daniel Furse at St Katherines by the Tower (of London), on November 26th 1609, and Andrew Fursland, also spelt Furseland, is recorded as being a witness at the same church of St Katherine on April 12th 1619 in the reign of James 1st of England. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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