This very interesting surname is believed to be of English-Welsh medieval origins, but it has said that even that simple statement is clouded with some doubt. It was once claimed that the name was a short form of the surname 'Fewster'. This derives from the pre 10th century, Old French 'fustier', meaning a 'saddle-tree maker', but at best this prognosis seems unlikely. The earliest church recordings show that 'Few', the modern spelling, is a progressive development of 'Fewe', itself from 'Phehewe'- see below. Although we habe no absolutely conclusive evidence, we believe that the original 'Phehew' is a dialectal form of the Welsh 'Ap Hugh' i.e The son of Hugh, which is also recorded as 'Phugh'. In support of these observations we include the following examples of the surname recording commencing with Anne Phehew, the daughter of Robert Phehew, christened at St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, on September 27th 1584, and Dorothie Pehew, who was probably the sister of Anne, christened at the same church on October 26th 1589. Later recordings are those of Joane Fewe who married Alexander Willes at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on January 15th 1603, Ana Few, daughter of Edmond Few, christened at the church known as St Botolphs Without, in London, on October 9th 1653. Finally we have Robert Phugh, son of Richard Phugh, christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on March 30th 1685. The coat of arms granted in 1612 has the blazon of a blue field, a silver lion rampant armed and langued in red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Phehewe, which was dated July 7th 1582, christened at St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
This is a locational surname of great antiquity. It derives from the Olde English pre 7th century 'flagge' and as such describes someone who lived by a 'paved road', a rare occurrence at the time. This suggests that as the art of road making by the laying of 'flagges' was totally lost after the Romans left England in the year 410 a.d., that the original name holders did in fact live near the remains of a Roman road. The earliest recording of the surname comes from Kent, and this again would seem to be further proof of the origin, as this region was full of Roman remains. It has been suggested that the name could apply to one who cut 'flagges' and this is also possible, if unproven. Early church recordings of the surname include Margery Flack, who married Richard Dickinson at the church of St Martin Orgar, London on July 12th 1542, in the reign of the infamous Henry V111, and Mary Flacke (or Flache), who married John Norris at the church of St Katherines by the Tower (of London), on September 15th 1678. A Dorothy Flack is recorded in the 'History of the County of Norfolk' (England) for the year 1715, and the name is also recorded in the early registers of the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, USA. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert del Flac, which was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of the County of Kent,, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. 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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This ancient surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from an ethnic name for someone from France, derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "frennsee, frenche" a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "frencisc", meaning french. In some cases it may originally have been more that a nickname for someone who adopted French airs. Irish bearers of the surname are said to be descended from Theophilus de Frensche, a Norman baron who accompanied William the Conqueror in 1066, a branch of whose descendants settled in County Wexford in circa 1300. Some of the same family settled in County Roscommon in circa 1620, this was the branch that produced Field marshal Sir John French (1852 - 1925), commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Forces in the First World WAr.
Over nineteen Coats of Arms were granted to French families; one granted to a family in Cranfield, Essex, is an azure shield, a gold bend, between two dolphins embowed gold, the Crest being a crescent per pale silver and gold, between the horns a fleur-de-lis counterchanged.
The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon le Frensch, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Wiltshire", during the reign of King Edward I, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307.
The Waddelow Society is a non profit Family History Group, established in 1988, interested in reasearching the Waddelow/Wadlow name.
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Site Created August 2011
Updated: 13th April 2017
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