This interesting surname is of English locational origin from either Farlow in Shropshire or Fairley in Shropshire. Farlow, recorded as "Fernelau" in the Domesday Book of 1086 derives its name from the old English pre 7th Century "fearn" meaning fern plus "hlaw" a low hill or mound; hence "a fern-clad hill". Fairley, recorded as "Fernelege" in the Domesday Book, is composed of the old English elements "fearn" fern plus "leah" a clearing; hence "clearing overgrown with ferns". Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. The surname was first recorded in the mid 13th Century (see below). In the modern idiom, the surname has many variant spellings, including Varlow, Fairlaw, Furlow, Farloe, Farlowe and Farlew. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of William Varlow and Margret Roberts on April 26th 1647. at St. Katherine by the Tower, and the marriage of Thomas Varlow and Mary Ann Taylor on June 24th 1776, at St. Mary's, St. Marylebone Road. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip de Farlawe, which was dated 1255, in the "Hundred Rolls of Shropshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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