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About the study

A worldwide study of the surname and variants, which comes together in a One Named Society with members from, England, Canada, United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Variant names

Featherston, Fetherstone, Fetherston, Fetherstonhaugh, Fetherstonehalgh,Featherstonehaugh, Featherstonehalgh, Featherson,  Feverstone, Featherstun,Fatherson are just some of the variants I have found. The spelling of the name Featherstone has varied over the centuries, with additions and subtractions. Here is the list that we have registered with the Guild Of One Named Studies.

Featherstone, Featherston, Fetherstone, Fetherston, Featherstonhalgh, Featherstonehaugh, Featherstonhaugh, Fetherstonehaugh, Fetherstonhaugh.

We have examples from the Birth, Marriage and Death indexes where people were registered at birth with the final 'e' missing and were married with the final 'e' in the surname.  The 'haugh' is more difficult to prove, but people have suddenly adopted it for no apparent reason, although we have instances where people adopted the name, usually when money was involved.


There are more ancient spellings: The Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names by A.D. Mills published by Oxford University Press ( )2003 gives the village of Featherstone in Staffordshire "Feother(e)stan" 10th century, "Ferdestan" 1086 from the Doomsday Book.
Featherstone in West Yorkshire home of Featherstone Rovers rugby league team "Fredestan" in the  same year and from the same source.

The dictionary also quotes Featherstone as ( a place at) the four stones i.e. a tetralith.
Old English feother- + stan

Other spelling include Fedderstan,  de Fedderstanhalwe, de Fedderstanhalgh and so on.

1/     The following is an extract from a web page and is marked “© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980-2007”  :-

 …..”Fetherstonhaugh/Featherstonhaugh is a pre medieval locational surname. It originates either from the Castle of Featherstonhaugh in Northumberland, which was, it is claimed in Burkes General Armoury, held by the same Featherstonhaugh family for eight hundred years, OR from one of the various places called Featherstone, mainly in the north of England.

In every case the place name and hence the surname, derives from the pre 7th century Olde English “Feberstan”, a word which describes an ancient grave or cromlech, consisting of three upright stones and a head stone.

The F… place name is first recorded in Staffordshire in the year 996 AD as “Fetherestanhalg”, and as “Fetherstane” in the Doomsday Book for Yorkshire in 1086, but perhaps surprisingly, not until 1204 in Northumberland, when it is recorded as “Fetherestanhalg”.

The earliest F… surname recordings are believed to be from Yorkshire, and include Simon de Fetherstone and Petrus de Fetherstan (so much for medieval spelling), both appearing in the Poll Tax Rolls for that county in the year 1379.”…. end

 (I found it interesting to note the long gap (996 AD to 1379) from when “Fetheresthalg” was recorded as a place name to the first mention of a  F… surname particularly when I noted that the Castle line research refers to: Gen 1/ Helias De Fethherstanhale b abt 1185 d abt 1226. It would seem this use of a surname predates the information in the article by 150 or so years.)


2/     Further to the above,  I noted an entry on our site dated May 23 2000 theorizing that the name came from a Saxon warrior chieftain in around the year 600 named Frithelstan. It seemed we did not find any reliable source but, I have recently read a book The Borders by Alistair Moffat published 2007 by Birlinn Limited. ( the other family name I am researching is GRAHAM who were boarder reivers)

It’s a history of the Boarders from earliest times and is, at times, hard going. But I found it interesting noting the number of ancient (probably Celtic) names containing …frith… relating to Northumbria from 500 to 600 AD vis:

    The monastery at Ruipon by Alchfrith
    Bishop Eadfrith  c 700
    King  Ecgfrith   685
    Frithwald- king of Bernicia in 586 was succeeded by Aethelric in the same year who reigned along side his son Aethelfrith who became king in 593.  

This made me wonder about Frithelstan as a possible source of the name – but I have had no luck yet.

It seems the ancient word “stan” always means “stone” but after some very cursory research I continue to be confused around the meaning of “frith” - I have found meanings for frith as follows:

-of a lower degree perhaps the son of or successor to

-fright or perhaps frighten all

Could the supposed warrior chieftain’s name Fritherstan derive from the syllables / words frith and stan?  E.g. Son of Stone or Frightening Stone

Obviously nothing but supposition here and I’m just having fun but who knows?


Ken Porter   Member (306)


We have research in the county of Kent where Feverston turns later into Featherstone, it could be just the local dialect which pronounced the "th" as "v" as today the south eastern accent does something similar.

We have research which covers the counties of Cheshire and Staffordshire which in the early late 17th century in Cheshire gives the name Fatherson which changes to Featherstone the early Fathersons came from the Wolstanton area of Staffordshire.

Researchers also believe that the surnames Parkinson and Perkinson are linked via a Featherstonhaugh descendant named Peter, before 1362. Who inherited lands in Lancashire. His off spring became known as Peters Kin and so to Parkinson and Perkinson. More research on this is shown in our records section. via the link to England and Wales.

Heneage is a given name early in the Fetherstone's after Sir Heneage Fetherstone b. 30 April 1588 London see how this comes down from his mother see also the Fetherston line given in the visitation of London in 1635

Name origin

A DNA project was started in 2004 to try and give some insight into the origins of the name, we started on the presumption that the name may have come from the Castle, first results indicate that this may not be true, but more results are needed to draw any conclusions at this stage of the project.

History of the name

Above: Cuthbert Featherston cir 1550  said to have been a cryer in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Federstonhaugh owned the Castle Featherstone around 1215 near Haltwhistle in Northumberland.
New research proves the link between Featherstone in West Yorkshire and Featherstone in Northumberland. With West Yorkshire being the source of the name in England.

Name frequency

There are around 5,000 of the surname and variants in the 1881 census of England.

In the USA

In 1990, Featherstone was ranked #7839.
In 2000, Featherstone was ranked #9698.


In 1990, Featherston was ranked #8743.
In 2000, Featherston was ranked #10224.


Distribution of the name

The name can be found in greater numbers in the English counties of Durham, North & East Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Kent, Devon- Back to when Parish records began. The first known Featherstone in the U.S.A. was around 1612, although he was known to have died during the expedition, many have followed. There are many in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Ireland is thought to have the name via a settlement after the English civil war.


To date I have collected Births Deaths and Marriages from the beginning of Civil registration up to 1960, Many family tree's from around the world, and lots of census material, this collection keeps growing.
First World War records and parish records are being developed.


From a very small sample so far it would appear our names are location based.



William Featherstone