The surname of FARLEY was a locational name 'of Fairleigh or Fairley' a parish in County Somerset, seven miles from Bath, a parish in Hampshire, near Basingstoke, and 'of Farley' parishes in Kent and Surrey, and chapelries and townships in Stafford and Wiltshire. The name was derived from the Old English word Farnleg, meaning literally the dweller by the ferns. Most of the place-names that yield surnames are usually of small communities, villages, hamlets, some so insignificant that they are now lost to the map. A place-name, it is reasonable to suppose, was a useful surname only when a man moved from his place of origin to elsewhere, and his new neighbours bestowed it, or he himself adopted it. Early records of the name mention FERNELEGE (without surname) listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Adam Farleigh, 1327, County Somerset. Jacob de Farlegh, County Wiltshire, ibid. Hugh de Farlaye of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village early times, has served to name many families. The name has many variant spellings which include Fairlegh and Fairlie. A later instance of the name mentions Sarah, daughter of Joseph Fairleigh, who was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1700. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Effingham, County Surrey.
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