Category Archives: Etymology

Etymology of a Name Pt. 1

In various records of the contemporary name Follansbee are various spellings. Follonsby, Folanceby, Folansbye, Folaunceby, Folesceby, Foletesbi, Foleteby, Folettebi are a few. We have various reasons for this. Phonetics and close dialects are surely large influences. So is the combination of languages and spelling. Latin, Norse, Old English, French and variations of these all play a part in the different spellings of Follingsby.

So far, it appears our name change went something close to this (original to current) in a general overview we see Foletebi, then Follonsby, then Follingsby. Follinsby and Follansbee today are both in use. Follingsby is retained in England and Follansbee appears to be a completely American spelling. Lets take our traveling ancestor Thomas Follansbee as an example:

1. Thomas Follansbee b. 30 Sept 1637. His first marriage on October 25, 1669 is recorded at St Andrew Holborn and has his name spelled what looks like ffollensby.*


2. His travel record at Barbados in 1679 has his name spelled as Ffollinsby, according to Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2012 page 177.

3. His record of the previous marriage in New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004.  list his name as Folinsbee and his son Thomas Jr. b. 1674 as Follingsby.

So in less than 50 years and with the same person (and son) we have 4 different recorded spellings (Hollensby, Ffollinsby, Folinsbee, Follingsby).

5. Then finally, in his last marriage recorded in Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).  We have the current spelling of Follansbee, the 5th variation in the same generation.


Well, I guess I tackled various spellings and not the origin of the name. I will have to tackle that one next time and hopefully my ADHD doesn’t kick in again.

-Josh Follansbee

*ffollanby two lower case f’s used for a capital F.


Filed under Etymology, History, Origin