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FALLIS vs. FOLLIS

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Our family name can be found under a variety of spellings. FALLACE, FALLICE, FALLIS, FOLLACE, FOLLAS, FOLLIS, FOLLICE, FOULIS, or FOWLIS are some of the more commonly seen spellings I have found in records. A FOWLIS from England was in late 1800's Fort Wayne City directories. FOLLAS is the spelling for brother William Martin FOLLAS' family of the Delphos, Ohio area, yet his son John who moved to California is FOLLIS.

Infoplease dictionary gives our pronunciation for Follis

The earliest land deeds of Thomas FOLLIS are clearly FOLLIS . It is safe to assume the pronunciation of the name implied an 'O' rather than an 'A'. My own handwriting for my name Follis often looks like Fallis! The towns in Ireland are 'o' not 'a' and the castle in Scotland is FOULIS as we pronounce FOLLIS. These facts imply that FOLLIS is a closer pronunciation if not the correct spelling rather than FALLIS whose pronunciation rhymes with Dallas. I am sure some of the FALLIS descendant may disagree. It can be assumed someone in our past acquired the last name FALLIS - FOLLIS in relation to some of these items found so far. However, the definition of "to assume" - makes an 'ass' of 'u' and 'me,' so we make assumptions at our own peril.


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Our name is spelled FOLLIS in this 1915 summary of George Morgan JONES a descendant of Sarah FOLLIS and Nehemiah WOOD of Shenandoah County, Virginia, sister to my Isaac FALLIS. It is this line of the family that lead to the George Morgan Jones Memorial Library now the Jones Memorial Library a Genealogy and History Library in Lynchburg, Virginia, part of the Lynchburg Public Library according to their history. His photo is listed in the Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum and he has a large stone memorial in his honor in Hanging Rock, Roanoke County, Virginia.

Bentley FALLIS of Georgia who has researched the FALLIS family for over 50 years says Williams Stuart Fallis' original 1956 Fallis family tree was mostly correct. I only document my direct family line, and so far I can confirm most of William's information does appear to be correct. I doubt if the arrival date with William PENN the founder of Pennsylvania can be verified as no FOLLIS is listed on the Welcome ship manifests or with the Welcome Society which one researcher (search for Bill Berg or Fallis) claimed as the immigrant FOLLIS' ship.

I believe George as the father of immigrant Thomas FOLLIS comes from a misreading of the 1895 biography of Daniel James FALLIS the banker of Ohio and Kentucky in his Kentucky biography. If you read it clearly, it does not name the great-great-grandfather immigrant FALLIS as George or any other given name. While I have not researched the Pennsylvania records, I have not heard from anyone who has documentation in Pennsylvania. My Thomas FALLIS is in 1731 southwest West Jersey buying land in Quaker East Jersey a few miles from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania border. He purchased land in Frederick County, Virginia in the early 1750's and died around 1755-1756 about 25 miles south of the Pennsylvania state line 50 miles southeast of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in what is now Berkeley County, West Virginia.

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FALLIS and FOLLIS are found interchanged throughout most of the early handwritten records right into the 20th century. Twenty years ago my mother was listed as FALLIS in a family obituary. If you look at my signature you might think my last was FALLIS instead of FOLLIS. Some FALLIS families today pronounce their name as rhyming with Dallas, while we pronounce FOLLIS rhyming with 'HOLLIS' as in 'Foul - is' or Fowl - is'. We pronounce it as it is spelled in the Foulis Castle of Scotland. I hope to find someone from Ireland and Scotland someday to pronounce both names to see how they would pronounce the surnames. In an email, I asked a FOLLIS in Ireland how he pronounced FOLLIS but did not receive a reply. I recall a FALLIS family in northwest Ohio telling me they pronounce their name rhyming with the season 'fall' as in 'FALL - IS'. Some freed slaves in southern Ohio from Virginia spelled their name FOWLIS. I suspect one reason for the different pronunciations is related to southern dialects. Somewhere I read that what is often called 'hillbilly' dialect in relation to bluegrass music is related to its historical ethnic origins from its Scots-Irish, French and German ancestry of the pioneer families of Kentucky, Tennessee, etc. This could explain the difference in pronunciation between what may be a northern versus southern ethnic difference. This is an area outside of my interest at this time but sounds reasonable.

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The most common spellings are FALLIS and FOLLIS, a couple instances are FALLICE or FOLLICE, with the Delphos, Ohio families spelled FOLLAS. In 2006 a FOLLAS from New Zealand contacted me indicating her family immigrated from Northern Ireland to New Zealand in the early 1800's. Mandatory education and use of mechanical type such as with typewriters and computers allowed families to settle on one spelling. A lot of early handwritten American records are FALLIS, similar to my signature, although Thomas FOLLIS a burgess is found first in 1641 James City, Virginia. In my earliest hand written records Thomas FOLLIS' name on the 1753 above left and 1754 above right land deeds in Frederick County, Virginia is FOLLIS, not FALLIS. Granted the signature is of the county deed recorder, it implies the pronunciation as they wrote what they heard or what they were told was the correct spelling. Many books in Virginia of grandchildren families use the spelling Follis and sometimes discuss the variations such as the Nehemiah Wood Family and Samuel Fallis Wood Biographical Sketches of the Wood Family. In my family FOLLIS became the dominant spelling of the three sons of my third-great-grandfather Jacob FALLIS of Greene County, Ohio. The FALLIS Pioneer Cemetery near Bellbrook, Greene County, Ohio is where Jacob and his father Isaac FALLIS are buried on Isaac's pioneer 160 acre farm. In the Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery in Wabash County, Indiana brothers Samuel FALLIS died in 1858 and John FOLLIS in 1864 have different spellings on their tombstones that are side by side, mother Catherine FALLIS 1864 is between, and brother Daniel FOLLIS 1930 is nearby.

I came across this interesting posting by a Jason FOLLIS of Canada "As well part of follis means "billows" in Latin. Which can be thought of as "full of a hot air" or a "fool" since a fool (h)as little meaning in their words. Also, this originated in Europe, but later in the US, two family names the "fOllis" and the "fAllis" came up. The Follis with an "o" were often uneducated and farmers. typically a follis with an "a" were educated teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. Supposedly my father once took a call and was asked his name so he said G. Follis, the lady asked "Is that with an "o"?" My dad said yes and she was disgusted and replied 'Well, If my grandmother knew i was talking to a follis with an "o", she would roll over in her grave.'"

I have found a number of lawyers, realtors, and ministers named FOLLIS so this "old family wives tale" is now just a funny story. It is best never to take these old stories too seriously, but they could have some basis for having been passed along.

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Surname dictionaries warn researchers against drawing conclusions from the definition of a family name as an indication of the origin of a family. I talked to an unrelated Fort Wayne family who chose the ZEIGLER surname because it was similar to their long eastern European surname when they came to America in the early 20th Century. A ZIEGLER family relative is said to have dropped the letter 'E' in their name in order to fit ZIGLER on a feed bag which represented the families main source of income. Therefore take name definitions "with a grain of salt".

One definition of FALLIS is "English and Scottish (of Norman origin): habitational name from Falaise in Calvados, France, the birthplace of William the Conqueror. The place is so named from Old French falaise ‘cliff‘ (a word of Germanic origin). Scottish and northern Irish: reduced form of McFalls. The web site Irish Ancestors states "Fallis: quite numerous: Derry, Fermanagh etc. Probably Anglo-Norman from Falaise, Normandy."

FOLLIS is considered a variant of FALLIS."William the Conqueror from France took control of England after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. A similar name FALLAS is English mainly from West Yorks. Variation FALLIS is found chiefly in Northern Ireland which supports the idea our Scots-Irish ancestors came from that region of Ireland. While it is easy to concentrate on one surname we should not forget that the number of ancestors doubles with each generation that we go back in the past and documentation is important to not take the wrong path chasing names rather than ancestors. You can see the numbers on my How Many Ancestors page.

A 2005 email from a FOLLIS in County, Armagh, Northern Ireland states his FOLLIS family came with William Prince of Orange during the Battle of Boyne. He says a couple of FOLLIS brothers came with Prince William and stayed in Ireland. The emailer did not respond to a request for sources or documentation. The time period 1650-1702 for William would fit for the FOLLIS' who were in New Jersey before 1731. This as the first I ever heard of this FOLLIS origin and I will have to look more into this eventually.

From the 1857 Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names the surname Foulis is of Norman extraction. Their first British ancestor came into England either at or before the Conquest, and his armorial bearings were three leaves, called "Feuilles" in the old Norman; it is certain that the name was either given to the family while residents of South Britain, or else assumed by him who first settled in Scotland in the reign of Malcom Canmore, when surnames were then first adopted. Another definition for FOULIS shows it first appeared in 1214 Scotland. FOLLIS first appeared in 1450. FOULIS was a common place name. On the web page Foulis Castle Clan Munro it states Foulis Gaelic "Fo-glais" a steamlet. The lack of FALLIS implies the current American pronunciation rhyming with Dallas was not common in Scotland. First appearing in 1709 when our FALLIS-FOLLIS family was probably already in America after spending an unknown length of time in Ireland. My Thomas FALLIS is first documented in New Jersey in a 1731 land deed.

  • Reginald de Foulis was a witness in the reign of Alexander II (1214-1249).
  • Thor de Foules was a witness to a charter by William Maule of Foules in 1260.
  • William de Foulis was vicar of St. Ninians, Stirlingshire, in 1295
  • Sir Alan de Foulis was canon of St. Andrews 1305
  • William of Fouleys had a safe conduct to England 1422. He may also have been William Foulles, Foulls or Foulys who was Provost of Bothwell 1429-1431.
  • Thomas de Fowlis was subprior of Abirbrothoc 1425.
  • Alexander Foulis was commissioner to Parliament for Linlithgow 1469
  • Michael Fowlis was friar preacher in Aberdeen 1486
  • Andrew Faulis witnessed a deed in Glasgow 1552.
  • Henry Foulis held land in Linlithgow 1549
  • David Fowllis retoured in lands in barony of Evendaill (Avondale) 1612
  • Robert Foulles was an advocate in 1633.
  • Other spellings Foulls 1679, Fowlls 1592, Follis 1450, Fawlis 1574.

Faulds is a common place name occurring in Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire and Perthshire.

  • John of Fawls of Leith imported salmon into London in 1438.
  • Arthur Fauldis held land in Glasgow in 1536.
  • Archibald Faullis was a merchant burgess in Glasgow 1642.
  • James Faullis lived in Blacklaw 1666
  • Robert Fals was charged with carrying baggage in 1672, and he also spelt it Faules and Fauls.
  • Robert Fauls was master of a family in the parish of Buittle, 1684.

Compare with Foulds, Fowlds

  • Andrew Fowls was a smith in Wanlockhead 1748
  • Andrew Foulles was a shoemaker in Kirktoun 1684, and he also spelt it Faullis in 1688.
  • Other spellings: Faulles 1705, Fauldis 1708, Fallis 1709, Foulis 1696.
  • However, MacFalls derives from MacPhaill (Gaelic for son of Paul).

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FOWLIS on page 247 of the "Proceedings of the Society, May 1867 on the foundation of the Church of FOWLIS" in Scotland, states FOWLIS is probably of Celtic origin. It may have reference to the position of the church which adjoins a den and a burn, which the Gaelic word Foil-es has the same meaning. It also states Fowlis is a common territorial name in Scotland. Follis Wester Scotland is said to be named for one of 3 French brothers Fowlis being a corruption of the French feuilles (leaves). Ancestry.com shows less than a dozen Fowlis families in 1891 Scotland. Family Search has records for a Fowlis parish back to 1741. Julie Fowlis is a Scottish singer.

I found an Englishman named FOWLIS in an early 1900 Fort Wayne, Indiana City Directory. And in the 1920 Federal Census a John Fowlis family was only 4 households from my grandfather Milo Follis' mother-in-law Margaret Schneider's home. I can only wonder if Milo ever talked to John Fowlis who was born in Pittsburgh, and his parents were born in England.

More FALLIS FOLLIS pages:

My FOLLIS Families Thomas & Catharine EIKENBERRY Jacob & Hannah KINGERY Isaac & Mercy VAUGHAN Jacob & Sarah SPRINGER
Thomas & Elizabeth Fallis Pioneer Cemetery Fallis Cemetery Wildflowers Immigrant FOLLIS Daniel James FALLIS
FOLLIS Information Fallis As First Name Follis Links FALLIS vs FOLLIS FOLLIS Places
FOLLIS Trivia FALLIS - FOLLIS in Civil War Black FOLLIS' E. O. Fallis Fallis Oklahoma
Clinton Warren County, Ohio        

Genealogy research is never complete, important details might be missing, and often contains errors, so let me know if your research contradicts mine. My Indiana and Ohio family research comes from conversations with relatives, scrapbooks, library research, online records, visits to courthouses, final resting places on family farms and cemeteries. Families in other states rely mostly on the research of others. Links to other web sites often change then won't work, so if you find broken links, have additional information on any families, corrections, photos, or anything to add to the history of our families, please leave a Comment in my Guest book, join my Follis Families on Facebook page for updates and new discoveries, or send an Email. The Wayback Machine archives most old web pages so copy and paste the broken URL address to find the missing 404 pages that disappeared. I like Dick Eastman's newsletter on using Unverified Data from the internet.

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