The surname of FINLEY was derived from the Gaelic Fionnlagh. The name is generally explained as meaning ' Fair-hero '. Early records of the name mention Fynlayus clericus, who witnessed a charter in the year 1246. Fyndlaw Thane, leased the lands of Enirvak in 1480. Andrew Fyndelai, chaplain of Brechin in 1526. John Finlawsone witnessed an Atholl Charter in 1455. Ade Findelasone, was a tenant of the Bishop of Aberdeen in Petglass in 1511. Thom Findlaisone was presbyter in Dunkeld in 1528 Robert Fyndlasoun leased land in Dunkeld in the year 1585. The use of fixed surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, although the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterwards. During the reign of Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) the latter directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions, and there created 'The first erlis that euir was in Scotland'.
A notable member of the name was George Finlay (1799-1875) the Scottish classical historian, born of Scottish parents in Faversham in Kent. After studying at Glasgow and Gottingen, he joined Byron in the Greek War of Indenpendence in 1823, and settled in Attica. He wrote several works on Greek History. Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Registered in Edinburgh in 1672.
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