Tag Archives: Foletebi

Report to The Follansbee Association. Part I

Report to the Follansbee Association U.S.A.

By Columbus Smith A.D. 1865


               The Report is a mix of fact and fiction. The pedigree for my family line checks out perfect, but the listed coat of arms (a bee hive) and some timing in the sale of the 3 equal parcels of Follonsby Farm does not match historical record. One thing that is only mentioned in this report, and by that as word of mouth, that the Follansbee line in England starts with a Knight in the service of W.m. the Conqueror. While this makes for a great family story, the evidence does not bare this out. Available for anyone to view are historical records from Durham Cathedral that Follansbee Village was previously marsh and forest land that was drawn up to 702 acres and sold to Thorold de London around the 12th century by the Bishop of Durham. There is about a 90 year gap between William the Conq. and Thorold’s purchase.

Referring back to the coat of arms listed in the Report, A hive of Bees for Following bees does not match the history of the name. My prevailing theories on the name come from the original name Folete, Foletebi. If you have read the posts below, you may recall that Thorold’s son Nicolas is the first “de Foletebi” after he inherited the village from his father he was recorded as Nicolas de Foletebi. So, what we seem to have in the Report is a valid set of pedigrees, some scant information on the Follansbee Farms (former Village) in Durham Eng. and some filler information by our investigator.

The first section of the Report is titled “Organization” which comes in two parts, the preamble and the constitution. The preamble begins with its purpose and states a desire for further investigation in England. The Follansbees of America wanted to find and cash in on what they think to be a million dollar estate left in England.


         A general meeting of the Follansbee Family was holden in North Enfield, N. H. on the 8th day of May, 1865, in order to collect information relative to the Follansbee property in England, and to devise means to have a thorough investigation made of their claim to a very largo estate situated in England, said to belong to the Follansbee Family in America. It was thought that no longer delay should be allowed in this matter, but there should now be joint action and the question should be finally settled as to whom the property really belongs, and that steps should at once be taken to recover this immense estate if practicable. The Follansbee Family at this meeting was well represented, and the following Constitution was unanimously adopted:



Whereas, It is believed that there is in England, real and personal property to the amount of one million dollars or more, said to belong to the Follansbee family in America; and, whereas, the next of kin and heirs to this property are said to be in America; now, in order to prosecute that investigation and procure the pedigree of the family in this country, so as to connect them with the deceased who left the Estate, we, the undersigned, do agree to form ourselves into an Association under the following:


 Art. 1. This Society shall be called the Follansbee Association,

Art. 2. C. M. Fisher, (.f London, England, and Columbus Smith, of Salisbury, Vt., are hereby appointed agents for the purpose of investigating the case in America and England, and are requested to make printed reports, from time to time, of their doings to the members of the Association.

Art. 3. C. G. White, of Middlebury, Vt., is hereby empowered to raise two thousand dollars, to cover the necessary expenses of investigating the case in America and England by issuing Scrip, which Scrip are to be the first lien upon the property when recovered.

Art. 4. Every ‘Scrip shall be sold for five dollars. entitling the holder to one hundred dollars out of the first money recovered from said Estate by any member of the Association, and no more scrip shall be sold by said agent than shall be necessary to raise said sum of two thousand dollars and the sum of ten percent shall be deducted by the said agent to remunerate him for selling.

Art. 5. The said Smith and Fisher are to receive the sum of two thousand dollars, (after deducting the ten per cent, from the sale of said Scrip,) and in addition thereto, we agree to pay them ten percent, of all the money or property which they may find due said family, that we, or any of us, or our heirs, executors, administrators or assigns shall ever recover from said property.

Art. 6. We further agree that the said White shall receive ten percent, of all the money or property which may be found due said family that we, or any of us, or our heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns, shall ever recover from said Estate.

Art. 7. No member of this Association shall be liable to pay more than one dollar, as expenses, or compensation, or otherwise, to any person or persons whatever.

Art 8. Any member of the Follansbee Family may become a member of this

Association by paying to C. G. White, agent as aforesaid, and by signing this Constitution, and each member shall be entitled to a printed report of all information gained in the case.

All members of the Follansbee family in America are invited to become members of this Association, and requested to forward their pedigree(so far as they know them) to Columbus Smith, West Salisbury, Vt., or to C. G. White, of :Middlebury, Vt. The following named persons are members of the Follansbee Association, as well as some others who have signed the Constitutions not yet returned.

[Here I have omitted the names listed for brevity]



           According to the wishes of the Association, I will here give you all the information I have been able to collect from different members of the Follansbee family, and from other sources in America. This report must necessary be very imperfect, not yet having been able to collect much information relative to the case, nor the pedigree of but few branches of this somewhat numerous family. Most members of this family are aware that from the early part of this century, it has been talked of, by members of the Follansbee family, that there was a large property in England which had been left for them, by a Follansbee in England. Mr. Waldo, of Randolph, VT, says: That, as early as 1810, there was great excitement there about the large property coming to Moses Follansbee and his heirs, from England. Wm. P. Wills, of E. Randolph, VT., says: I recollect, about 1807 or 1808, there was great excitement with the people in consequence of information that came from England, to Moses Follansbee, that there was a large property in England that belonged to the Follansbee’s in America; that some of the heirs were offered $1,000 at that time for their claim. Many others, in Randolph and vicinity, recollect the same thing.

 Seth P. Follansbee, of Enfield, says: I distinctly recollect, when a mere boy, of hearing my father, (Joseph Follansbee), tell my mother, that his father, Joseph Follansbee, had received a letter from England, saying there was a large property in England belonging to him and his connection. This was in the year 1809 or 1810.

 I am informed that, as early as 1810, the Follansbee’s sent a Mr. Seabury, from Canaan. N.H., to England, to look after the property that, a short time previous to that, an advertisement appeared in the American papers, calling for the Fallansbees in America, to claim a property in England. I have not been able to get a copy of this advertisement, nor have I been able to learn what was done in England by Mr. Seabury, or whether he ever reported to the claimants.

Next post I will continue with the Report which then begins to be a copy of letters on the investigation into the family tree and the estate in England.

-Joshua Follansbee

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Henry Follansbie and Folansbye Villiage, The first link connecting the Place-Name Follansbee.

From: An hisorical, topographical, and descriptive view of the county Palatine of Durham…Vol. 1pg 17.   By Eneas Mackenzie, Marvin Ross

“Follonsry is bounded by Wreken Dyke on the north on the south and east by the parish of Washington and on the east by Boldon Thorald of London the grantee of Bishop William gave his vill of Folettibi to his younger son Nicholas who released his right in it to Robert Fitz Roger for twenty marks a gown and a palfrey The estate was held by John de Farneacres in the fourteenth century and afterwards by the Gategangs of Gateshead In 1429 Roger Thornton the wealthy merchant of Newcastle died seized of it but Lord Lumley who married the heiress of Thornton probably alienated the manor for it was soon after the property of the Hiltons in which family it continued until 1750 In consists of three farms North Follonsby South Follonsby and the Learn comprizing altogether 702 acres The first portion is the property of Thomas Wade Esq the second of Matthew Russell Esq and the Learn of the Barras family which family it continued until 1750 In consists of three farms North Follonsby South Follonsby and the Learn comprizing altogether 702 acres The first portion is the property of Thomas Wade Esq the second of Matthew Russell Esq and the Learn of the Barras family”

Reviewing some old material for my memory sake.

It is established that the area where the old vill. of Follonsby sat was an area of waste land granted to Thorald de London by Bishop William around 1154 to 1160 (12th C). Thorald then granted the Vill. to his son Nicolas who in turn released it to Robert Fitz Roger. There seems to be a gap, and then we know that in the 14th C. it was owned by John de Farnacres, etc etc until we see all the land sold off. No where from the beginning with Thorald to the eventual dissipation of the Follonsby area do we find in any record of an actual Follonsby owning, living, or working there. The earliest traceable Follansbie is perhaps Henry b. 1597 about 400 years after Thorald was granted the area. It just seems most likely that Henry or perhaps an earlier ancestor was from the area and his last name is a place name, it came from the area he lived, making the village or later Follonsby farms predating the surname of Follonsby (Follansbie, Follansbee, Follansby, Folletebi).

It is established that the original name was Folletebi. In The Place Names of Northumberland and Durham we read:


Follingsby (Jarrow). c. 1140 F.P.D. Folete{s)hi, c, 
1180 Foleteby, Folescehy, c. 1220 Folasceby ; 1335 Ch. 
Folethehi ; 1343 J. and W. Folescehy ; 1400.45 Folancehy ; 
1446D.S.T. Folauncehey ; 1539 F.P.D. Folansbye, Folaunceby ; 
1580 Halm. Follenshye. 

Cf. FuUetby, Lines., D.B. Folesbi, Fullohi, Lines. Surv. 
Fuledebi, Fuletebi. The first element is a name of the same 
type as O.N. Haf-, Sumar-, Vetr-li^i=sea.-, summer- and 
winter-traveller. No name FuU-li6i is recorded, but there 
may have been such a name from the adj. full li'Sa, " well- 
provided with troops," " fuUy able " (Vigfusson and 
Fritzner). Cf. Selaby infra. Foletes and Folesce are 
anglicised genitives of this name. For n, v. Phonology, 
§ 55. Later a pseudo-patronymic form was developed.

It is interesting to read that the spelling Folansbye is found around 1539, and our earliest recorded ancestor Henry Follansbie was born in 1597. Noted is the spelling Follenshye in 1580, so I am forced to conclude without other evidence that Henry was possible born with the surname Follansbie and possibly his father or grandfather was the first to use the place-name as their last name, or being only 41 years between the two spellings, Henry could be the first to use the place-name assuming that both names were used as is common all over the world.

The answers lie with tracing Henry, which has been fruitless using just the internet.

-Josh Follansbee

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Where is Follingsby?

I haven’t really figured out yet how England designates counties, cities, parishes and what not. So, bear with me if I get something wrong. At the very least you will be able to see where Follingsby is in the big picture of things.

Modern Day Follingsby:

Today, Follingsby is memorialized in the names of an industrial park and a few roads in the town Washington in the City of Sunderland in the county of Tyne and Wear, England. Historically part of County Durham, according to Wikipedia.

800px-Tyne_and_Wear_CountyA development brief titled “Land to the South of Follingsby Lane,
Gateshead” by Indigo Planning & Storeys Edward Symmons
in 2013 recognizes the history of a Medieval Follingsby village

“The site is positioned on the possible site of the medieval village of Follingsby, based upon Tyne and Wear Historic Environment Records. A programme of archaeological work will be required, starting with a Desk Based Assessment and where necessary further archaeological fieldwork.” pg 43.

Medieval Follingsby: The Medieval period is generally considered from the 5th to the 15th century. The earliest period that I can currently establish for Follingsby is the 12th century. Recorded in Durham Episcopal Charters 1071-1152, (Surtees Society 179, 1968 pp. 167-170) is the grant from Bishop Rufus to Thorald de London (Thorald de Londoniis).

“Charter of G[eoffrey Rufus] [William of Ste. Barbe, acc. to Offler] Bishop of Durham granting and confirming to Thorald of London  and his heirs the whole of the land of Follingsby, with its boundaries as perambulated and drawn up by Osbert the sheriff, Geoffrey Escolland, Wm. de Friebois, Odo de Brenba, Roger de Putot and Archardus and his brother Dolfin; these boundaries are specified. Thorald is to hold free of all service, custom or exaction, and is to pay 10/- annually.
Witnesses: Osbert, sheriff Odo de Brenba Robert de Amundavilla G. de Bonevilla Ralph, son of Wm. Robert de Thorp Robert Conyers Hugh Borel Robert de Putot Roger del Vel Roger de Sancta Barba Dolfin Robert Friebois Engelarius and many others.”

A few notes on this quote. How should we take the phrase “with its boundaries as perambulated and drawn up by Osbert the sheriff…” ?  I am equally torn between the drawing of borders for a new village or establishing the current or expanded borders of a current village. On one hand, the lack of anything prior to this in deeds or traceable information and the verbiage ” perambulated and drawn up” push me to view this as the beginning of Follingsby. Perambulated means walked or strolled,so they walked (or maybe rode) the boarders. However, the etymology of the name as well as how even today we commonly verify borders of purchased property lend me to view it as either a statement of border verification or expansion.

In another post I will dig into where the name came from and offer evidences. For now let me just close this section by stating that Follingsby is likely Scandinavian, Germanic, and French. The original name is Foletebi (Folet Farm/Village). Folet is a french name and validates some Normand influence, “By/Bi” is Scandinavian for town/farm and the “Ing” is Germanic for From or Of. In time it seems the Germanic “ing” replaced the Latin “de” Originally someone would have been William de Foletebi  (Bill from Folet Village/Farm/Town) which became in time William Follingsby (Village of Folet). Interesting, No?

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