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Home: Surnames: Firby Family Genealogy Forum

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Re: Furby and Furby origins and diffusion.
Posted by: Bill Ford (ID *****6450) Date: May 02, 2004 at 08:02:25
In Reply to: Furby and Furby origins and diffusion. by Kenneth Firby of 16

Hi Kenneth,
I can understand your desire to share your research with a wide audience, but,if you imply that you are an authority on the subject, you are inviting criticism. In expressing such absolute certainty in your conclusions, without citing any verifiable evidence, you haven’t convinced me that you are fully aware of the complexities of the subject or that your assertions should be given any weight.
British place-names and the origins of surnames are two subjects that have attracted considerable academic interest and also disagreement. There is a vast bibliography of studies including, for example, Fellows-Jensen, G., “Scandinavian Settlement Names in Yorkshire” (Copenhagen1985). However, a feature of modern research is the care taken not to appear too dogmatic. In the Preface to his 2003 “Oxford Dictionary of British Place-Names”, A.D. Mills points out that “certainty in establishing the original meanings of many older place-names is unlikely to be achieved because of the nature of the materials. Given the archaic character of many place-names, and the fact that we can rarely know precisely when and by whom they were originally coined or came into use (as opposed to when they appear in written records), there will always be an element of conjecture in their interpretation”.
It is a fact that there is a place in Sweden called Furby (I understand it’s pronounced differently), but you haven’t shown why similarly named places in England have any direct connection, they could be just be derived from similar landscapes. If you agree that –by refers to a farm or village, you then have the problem of the derivation of fir/fur. There are different possibilities. You ascribe the origin of various thorpes to the sons of an ancient king but, for example, Burythorpe, in North Yorkshire is a relatively modern spelling. The Domesday Book (1086) has it as Bergetorp, probably an Old Scandinavian personal name plus thorp ie an outlying farmstead or hamlet belonging to a woman named Bjorg. (Mills).
English surnames need to be approached with similar caution and I suggest you read http://www.sog.org.uk/leaflets/surnames.html In particular you should note “Most people in England did not have anything approaching an hereditary surname until the end of the 14th century.”
Bill



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