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About the study

I started to research the FORRYAN name back in 1982 and have continued off and on ever since. My first area of research was into the local family and I managed to talk with a lot of FORRYAN's in Leicester, Burbage and Nuneaton. From these discussions I started to piece together the family into one gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

Between 1987 and 1990 I was in London a lot with my work so was able to frequently visit St Catherine's House where the Birth, Death and Marriage index's were held. Over this period I went through every volume of all index's and copied every record relating to the FORRYAN name. From this information and the information collected I was able to link many of the names and build a comprehensive database. This now contains some 1800 names either FORRYAN's or linked families.

This year I decided to register the FORRYAN name as a One-name Study.

Variant names

There are a number of variants which are still to be researched but the work completed so far shows these to be mainly spelling errors.

Name origin

The origin of the FORRYAN name is obscure and will probably never be fully understood. However there are two main though processes which have been defined below. One is the thoughts of W.G.Hoskins in his 'Leicestershire Yeoman Families and their Pedigrees' and the other are thoughts and research by Jean-Georges Forien de Rochesnard in his history of the FORIEN name. Please read both and make up your own minds.

Leicestershire Yeoman Families and their Pedigrees
by W. G. Hoskins circa 1946

'Forryan is another name peculiar to Leicestershire, and like many highly local names its meaning is obscure. Guppy, in his Homes of Family Names, says that it may be an altered form of Frewen, an old and distinguished family of Leicestershire and Sussex, but this is highly unlikely. Although we cannot trace the name in Leicestershire back beyond the poll tax return of 1377, back to William Forion of Shenton, about three miles south-west of Market Bosworth, the changes of name during the subsequent three or four hundred years throw some light on its origin. It seems to be a variant of Fearon, and Farren, from the old French feron, a smith, and with the aid of this clue we open up a long vista of this family's history in the medieval Leicestershire village. But before we go into that, let us just take the more recent history of the name, since the sixteenth century.

Over four hundred years ago, the Forryans were localised in two places on the western side of the county - at Coton in Market Bosworth, and at Burbage, seven miles south south-east. Although the will of Wlliam Foreann of Coton (1546) provides the earliest dated reference, The Burbage branch are probably just as old, as we find them well settled there in 1551, in which year they appear as owners of a sixty-acre farm in the village. They remained at Burbage as freeholders during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and in the latter century at Sketchley also, a neighbouring hamlet: and there are still Forryans in Burbage today. In the early seventeenth century branches of the family spread to Markfield and Congerston, where the name changed gradually to Farren by the eighteenth century and so also at Coton, where we hear of Thomas Farren in 1691. At Burbage the name remained in its original form of Forryan throughout these centuries, except for a very occasional variant as Farren and it is this change of spelling that furnishes the clue to the origin of the name.

Farren is more clearly recognisable as a variant form of Fearon, which in turn is obviously from the Old French feron, but why the Leicestershire form of the name should acquire an added syllable - Forion and Forryon in its earliest form - I cannot say. The name does not appear in the 1377 poll tax returns for Coton or Burbage, nor in any of the surrounding villages except Shenton, two miles from Coton and six from Burbage. Here we find 'William Forion and his wife' listed, in all probability the ancestors of the family in Leicestershire, now fairly widely spread in the county. A branch settled in Wigston Magna in the early years of the last century - about the early 1820's - as butchers, and remained there until recently. The family still lives in Wigston.


Genealogie De La Famille FORIEN
Depuis l'an 1345

(Thanks to Tom Forryan of Burbage who passed a copy of the original French document to me)

There were four booklets published of which the above was published in Paris in 1950. We have copies of two others but the final booklet dealing with the research into the family in England has been lost.

Jean-George writes:- 'The genealogy of our family was undertaken for the first time by Chardin at the request of Elie Forien de Rochesnard. This genealogy is kept in the Manuscripts Department, in the Chardin Collection Volume No. 83, at the National Library of Paris and includes, the period 1680 - 1785. We can see, in the life of Elie Forien, why he did not tell Chardin the oldest names.

We ignored this genealogy until I had restarted the research on 14th June 1932. Mr Maurice Forien took an active part in this research task from 1934 and Mr Maurice Valet has also been of great assistance.

Research has concentrated on all parish and civil registers in all the districts inhabited by the members of our family. These genealogical researches have not been abandoned and not a week passes without more enquiries being made in the National Archives.

In addition, I believe I can confirm that a branch of the family emigrated to England. Research into the archives of the County of Leicestershire have allowed me to discover that the Forryan family has lived at Burbage, Coton, Congerston and Markfield since the 16th Century and that it is still established there. When these enquiries have been finished they will be subject to a special report.

The first mentioning of our name is in the marriage of Agnes, daughter of Sir Ferton FOURIEND, 'dit Flamon', of Belussieres. The indication of 'dit Flamon' is very important. In effect the name of their country of origin was often given as a surname to foreigners, from which the origin of the name Lescoi (from Econais Scot and Lenglet (l'Analais) are derived. The same thing happens today and often popular sobriquets are used for foreigners or strangers e.g. Le Breton (from Brittany) which became hereditary when no official registration has been done.

The origin of our family is then probably in Flanders.' There is reference within these documents to say that the family from Flanders were 'merchant or producer of cabbages' or perhaps nearer to the mark in modern English would be market gardeners. '


My own belief is the latter which means that our family originated in Flanders (Belgium) and sold vegetables.

Historical occurrences of the name


Name frequency

From 1838 to 1991 there were 438 births and 334 marriages in the UK.

Distribution of the name

The name is now widely distributed through England - with the largest number in Leicestershire and Warwickshire. There are small families in Wales, but most of these originated in England. Elements of the family moved overseas and can still be found in Australia, Canada, USA and New Zealand.


I have all the birth, deaths and marriages from the General Register Office indexes 1837- to date

In the early 1990's the research turned into a one name study of the FORRYAN name and I have been busy collecting data ever since. This includes:-

' Newspaper articles
' Wedding Photo's
' Individual Photo's
' Family comments and stories
' Location data such as where families lived and where they moved to.
' Wills and probate information