Ferris/Ferrers/Ferrieres Family by
Perhaps the best description of the Ferris family origins comes from historian and genealogist W. R. Cutter, in his book, Genealogy and Family History of Western New York: "The name Ferris is from Leicestershire, House of Feriers, Farers, Fereis, Ferrerr, Ferreis, Ferrers or Ferris, the first member of which (in England) was Henry de Ferrieres (Ferrers), son of Guelchelme (Walkelin, Guillaume or William ) de Feriers, Master of Horse to the Duke of Normandy." Cockayne's Complete Peerage says the Sires de Ferriers and Chambrais had control of the two localities on the Charantonne, in the chief iron producing district of Normandy. It is known that the Ferrieres family owned and operated a large ironworks that turned out weaponry for centuries in St. Hilaire, the most important or most ancient of the forges. The iron workers were under the jurisdiction of six "barons fossiers,"and the family was styled "premier barons fossiers." The Norman name also derived from ferrum, meaning iron or horseshoe, and farrarius, a farrier. All of this goes a long way to explaining the horseshoes on the ancient Ferris Coat of Arms, and many sources now say that Walkelin de Ferrieres, Seigneur of St. Hilaire, was the duke's armourer as well as his Master of Horse.
The records show that the Ferris family originated in Ferrieres, Normandy, site of a very ancient Benedictine abbey dating back to the seventh century that was finally destroyed during the French Revolution more than a thousand years later. The abbey was up and running in 630 and doing very well, according to a diploma of Charles the Bald, preserved in the Orleans archives. This prosperity reached its height in the time of the celebrated Loup (Lupus) of Ferri*res in 650, when the abbey and its substantial library became a rather active literary centre. The library must have benefited thereby, but it shared the fate of the monastery, and is represented today by rare documentary fragments that barely hint at its former greatness.
The Ferrieres, on the other hand, survived and thrived. They were closely allied with Duke William's half-brother, the Count of Mortain, and one of the duke's nieces had married a Ferrieres. The family was endowed with two substantial estates -- Ferrieres-St. Hilaire and Chambrais, some three miles apart -- which had been in the domain of Duchess Judith of Brittany, first wife of Duke Richard II. The two special endowments were held by the lords of Ferrieres in demesne and later became the seat of their Norman barony. The decade beginning in 1040 was a period of unrelenting anarchy, as alliances of barons for and against young Duke William and one another contended for power. The Ferrieres emerged as one of the four great Norman baronial families and lined up on the side of the duke -- one of the family's rare politically correct decisions. Wakelin de Ferrieres was involved in a private war with Hugh de Montfort. The two knights took their differences to a jousting tournament and the outcome was a draw -- both were killed in the combat in 1040.
The Ferrieres family shares common genealogical roots with William the Conqueror. Those roots stretch back through the Norsemen who came down from Orkney north of Scotland and in from Ireland as rival armies of mercenaries hired by feuding French factions in western France. The Norsemen finally united to conquer Normandy for themselves in 871 AD. Those Viking roots have been traced back by some genealogical researchers through the Norwegian and Danish sagas to a forgotten Norse king who ruled Finland in 160 AD.
There is also St. Vincent Ferrer, canonized in 1415, a man whose claim to fame is that he once allegedly converted 25,000 Spanish Jews to Catholicism. He was born in Valencia in 1359, died in France in 1419 and his existence indicates that the family may also have had a strong Iberian presence in Castile, Aragon and Leon. The Norman side of the family followed William the Conqueror into Britain in force. Two of Wakelin's sons, William and Henry, were at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, heading a considerable force of Ferrieres soldiers who played a key role in routing the Saxons after the defenders' King Harold was killed in a valiant defence of his realm. William de Ferrieres was also killed at Hastings. But Henry survived the battle to take his older brother's share of the spoils as well as his own. William's surviving children took control of the Ferrieres estates in Normandy. A great grandson or great-great grandson of his, William de Ferrieres, led Duke Robert of Normandy's rebellious army in France in 1190 and again in 1206 against his relatives heading the English monarchy.
And a Chateau de Ferrieres has survived in France about 25 kilometres east of Paris, now owned by Baron James de Rothschild. The chateau was actually built in the 1850s in the Italian renaissance style by the Rothschild family. Today, it serves as a hostelry and restaurant for French, European and British tourists.
William the Conqueror gave large grants of land in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to Henry, and the Ferrieres became one of the great baronial families of medieval England. Almost instantly, Henri de Ferrieres went from Norman warrior to one of England's biggest landowners, given 210 manors and lordships throughout England and Wales by William. Of the manors, 114 were in Derbyshire, including almost all of the key Hundred of Appletree, over which he became the virtual ruler, receiving the title of Lord Tutbury. He launched construction of Duffield Castle almost immediately, a Norman Keep that was the first of the family's ancestral homes in England. The Ferrers family produced six Earls of Derby, 17 Lords of Chartley, six Lords of Groby and a Who's Who of lower-ranked knights and barons during the past millennium.
King William I made himself the most important landowner in the county of Staffordshire after ordering a march of subjugation through the southern midlands in 1068, in which Henry de Ferrers was one of the major military participants. The new Norman king took for himself royal manors which had belonged to Edward the Confessor, such as Kingswinford and Penkridge. He also added others, notably most of the manors which had belonged to the earls of Mercia, such as Kinver, Uttoxeter and Leek. Four of William's followers were given much of the remaining land in the county: Roger of Montgomery Earl of Shrewsbury, Robert de Stafford, William FitzAnsculf -- and Henry de Ferrers.
The Domesday Book records a castle at Tutbury, Staffordshire on the edge of Derbyshire, held by Henry de Ferrers, which soon became the Ferrers family seat, with Duffield Castle reduced to the status of a backup fortification. A Benedictine priory was founded by Henry on a site lower down the hill on which Tutbury Castle stood, probably in 1080. By 1086 a town had grown up with a market and 42 tradesmen were living in it, presumably supplying the castle and the early estates of Henry de Ferrers. William the Conqueror had first given Tutbury to his nephew, Hugh dâAvranches, known as Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, but three years after the 1068 march gave it to Henry de Ferrers for services rendered. it became the administrative centre of Henry's widespread holdings, and he used Tutbury as his principal residence when not at court in London. Henry had three sons, Enguenulf, William and Robert, whose two older brothers predeceased Henry. Robert was created first Earl of Derby by King Stephen in 1138 after distinguished service at the Battle of the Standard, in which the English defeated the Scots at Northallerton. William de Ferrers, third Earl of Derby, joined the unsuccessful rebellion against Henry II in 1174, and in 1175 the king had Tutbury Castle set ablaze out of spite, although it was soon rebuilt.
The first six earls were the most powerful of all the Ferrers family bluebloods, financially, socially and politically. The second earl also became Earl of Nottingham through marriage in the middle 1100s. But the sixth and final Ferrers Earl of Derby, Robert de Ferrers, sided with Simon de Montfort against Henry III in the Barons' War, which the king won hands down. Tutbury Castle was beseiged, captured and damaged again by the King's loyalists in 1263, Duffield Castle was virtually destroyed three years later, and de Ferrers lost his earldom along with his estates in 1266 to the son of Henry III, Edmund, Earl of Leicester. The family never regained the earldom, though the Ferrers did make a comeback of sorts following the death of Robert in 1279. At that point the family split into two less important baronial branches. Robert's son John became the first Lord Ferrers of Chartley, while his brother William was made first Lord Ferrers of Groby at about the same time. The lords of Chartley endured until 1855, when the 17th Ferrers to hold the title died without issue. The sixth Lord of Groby died in 1445 and the title passed to the Grey family with his heiress daughter.
Members of the family trace back to Alfred the Great of England and Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire. Ferrers sons and daughters intermarried with the ruling Plantagenets. One of the many mistresses of King John Lackland of Magna Carta fame was a Ferrers woman who bore him a daughter. The girl went on to marry a Welsh prince, the progenitors of a rebellious and independence-minded family that was finally stamped out by the English Crown 200 years later. The Scottish royal family also had solid Ferrers connections stretching back to Malcolm IV and St. Margaret, the Scottish queen of Saxon birth who fled England after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. One of their daughters married a Ferrers of Groby. Another Ferrers woman bore the illegitimate offspring of Scottish King William the Lion. The descendants of Edward Longshanks, Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Princess Joan of England had Ferrers connections. John of Gaunt holds a small branch in the family tree, and there are royal branches extending into France, Holland, Belgium and even Luxemburg. Other slivers from the family tree trace back to the Christian kings of Jerusalem during the Crusades, with William, third Earl of Derby, killed at the siege of Acre in 1289 while fighting for Richard the Lionhearted against Saladin, then regarded as the noblest of causes.
But the family never rose to seek the Crown, rarely challenging the authority of England's ruling families during almost a thousand years of history, and the Ferrers seemed to have a propensity for picking the losing side, right or wrong, in almost every conflict that did arise. They were second-echelon bluebloods, tier-two courtiers around the edges of the throne, and out in the countryside ruling vast estates rather than contenders for power in London. And when the Plantagenets eventually lost out to the Tudors, the Ferrers Fleur di Lis began to fade along with all the family's fiefdoms and estates.
The ruins of Chartley Castle, the other great estate of the Ferrers family, stand like broken teeth seven miles northeast of Stafford. The original castle was built by one of the early earls of Chester circa 1100 and was rebuilt in the 13th century by Ranulph de Blundeville, Earl of Chester. On Ranulph's death in 1232 it passed to William de Ferrers, fourth Earl of Derby, who was married to Agnes, one of Ranulph's sisters and co-heirs. It remained in the Ferrers family for more than 200 years and in 1453 passed to Walter Devereux through his wife Elizabeth, the Ferrers heiress. Walter was created Baron Ferrers in 1461 and was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, fighting for Richard III, the last Plantagenent. The castle was abandoned as a residence and Chartley Hall, a moated and battlemented timber mansion, was built nearby. Elizabeth I was entertained at Chartley Hall in 1575. Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned at Chartley from December, 1585 to September, 1586 before being taken to Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire for trial and execution.
Robert Devereaux, second Earl of Essex, became the favorite of Elizabeth I. But a foolish attempt at rebellion led to his execution on Feb. 25, 1601 and the Devereaux family's forfeiture of the earldom. His son, Robert, was restored as third earl by James I in 1604, but eventually became a Parliamentary military commander on Oliver Cromwell's side during the Civil War. Robert managed to lose an entire Parliamentary army during a fruitless invasion of Cornwall in 1645, was sacked and died childless in 1646. Chartley passed eventually to Sir Robert Shirley, the grandson and heir of Dorothy, the third Earl's sister. Shirley was created Baron Ferrers in 1677 and Earl Ferrers in 1711.
The site of the original Saxon fortress of Tamworth, a wooden structure, is well over 1,000 years old. It was built by Ethelfreda or Aethalflaeda, eldest daughter of of Alfred the Great, who took temporary command of the kingdom and army of Mercia in the year 910 following the death of her husband. Known as the Lady of the Mercians, she led a series of successful expeditions against the Viking invaders and assisted her brother Edward the Elder in his conquest of the Five Boroughs. Ethelfreda had the original wooden fortifications built at Tamworth in 913. The remnants of those fortifications perched on a man-made mound at the confluence of the rivers Tame and Anker came under Norman control soon after the 1066 Battle of Hastings. The Normans began rebuilding it as an enlarged mound topped with a wooden palisade and central tower, a project that was completed in about 1080. A century later, work got under way on Tamworth Castle's surviving configuration as a typical Norman motte and bailey castle. Its sandstone and superb herringbone walls are thought to date from the 1180's. The Normans replaced the wooden tower on the present artificial mound (motte) with a polygonal Shell-Keep stone castle including a square tower set into its seven-foot-thick walls. The lower bailey was originally bordered by a timber palisade with a ditch outside. The footpath over the herringbone wall, all that survives of the "Curtain Wall" of the bailey, leads up to the Castle Keep and down to the excavations of the late 13th century Gatehouse. The lower portion of the double tower of the gatehouse remains; the moat was dry, and the drawbridge raised and lowered over a stone causeway.
Numerous additions and alterations were made to the castle by succeeding generations of owners. The oldest surviving section within the Shell-Keep, apart from the tower itself, is the north wing with its 13th century arched doorway. The banqueting hall added in the early 15th century, and the warder's lodge at the entrance to the courtyard (upper bailey) is Tudor. With the construction of the south wing in the early 17th century, the 12th century Keep now houses a country gentlemen's residence. The castle was much neglected in the 18th century, but after 1783 extensive alterations were made which included the removal of the bay windows, tall chimneys and characteristic gable-roofed attic storeys and refacing of the exterior of the entire south wing.
There has been some confusion over the identity of the castle's first lord. There is evidence that before the reign of King Stephen (1135-1154), it was held by both Robert de Despencer and Robert Marmion. Robert de Despencer evidently left no surviving legitimate son when he died, and the heiress, a daughter or a niece, is said to have married into the Marmion family, wedding a man named Robert Marmion. However, the name Despencer means Steward, and it is now believed they may have been one and the same person. Marmion had performed the office of Champion to Duke William of Normandy. The gift of Tamworth Castle and the Manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire required him to continue rendering service as Royal Champion to the new King of England. He was ordered to come "to the Coronation of the Lord King, completely armed with royal arms of the livery of the Lord King, and sitting upon the principal royal warhorse, and oppose himself against any person who should gainsay the Royal Champion." Henry I held court at the castle in 1110, and the old wooden structure was also visited by Henry II and Thomas a Beckett in 1158. Henry III was the last monarch to visit Tamworth while it was still under Marmion family control.
The castle was twice threatened with destruction. In 1215, just before the signing of the Magna Carta, King John sent an armed force to raze it to the ground in revenge for Sir Robert Marmion, the fifth Baron, having sided with the Barons against him. During the Civil War the castle was held by the Royalists in 1642, and was a source of trouble to the Parliamentary Army in their endeavors to secure Lichfield. The castle was captured by the Cromwellians in 1643 after a siege lasting two days and Captain Waldyve Willington was placed in command. Cromwell ordered the Castle's destruction, but, as in King John's time, the threat was not carried out.
The Marmions held the castle until 1291 when Philip, the eighth and last Baron died. When Lady Jane Marmion died without an heir, the castle was granted by Edward I to her niece's husband, Sir Alexander de Freville. He was the last holder of the castle to perform the office of Royal Champion, appearing in this role at the coronation of Edward III in1327. The youngest daughter of the last of the Marmions had been granted her father's estate at Scrivelsby, and her successors claimed successfully that the office of Royal Champion was attached to that manorrather than Tamworth Castle.
In 1423 the male line of Freville failed and the castle passed to Sir Thomas Ferrers of Groby, who had married into the Freville family. From the Ferrers, the castle passed by marriage to the Shirleys of Chartley in 1688; again by marriage to the Comptons, earls of Northampton in 1715 and to the Townshends of Raynham in 1751. In 1810 George, the second Marquis Townshend, laid out the gardens and extensively renovated the castle. It was also George who built the Castle Lodge, now housing the Local Studies Centre and a fine photographic archive. He died in 1811 and the work was completed by the third marquis. The Townshend line died out two generations later and the heir to Tamworth, Lady Harriet Ann Ferrars Townshend, married Edward Ferrers of Baddesley Clinton in 1845. That marriage returned the historic old castle to Ferrers family control, and into poverty and disrepair as well. As the Ferrers line at Tamworth headed into extinction yet again, the castle came into the possession of London auctioneer John Robins for a brief period. Finally, the Corporation of Tamworth bought the castle for £3,000 in 1897, spending the next two years and quite a bit more money bringing it back to life. It was formally opened to the public on May 22, 1899 and has remained Tamworth's major attraction into present times, heading towards its 1,100th anniversary. Tamworth Castle is blessed with apartments designed and built in from almost every century from the twelfth to the twentieth. It has had, for many years, a fine collection of 16th to 19th century furniture on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Fifteen rooms are open to visitors including the Great Hall, Dungeon, a permanent exhibition on Norman Castles -- and a Haunted Bedroom.
The castle is known for two ghosts -- the Black Lady and the White Lady. The former is said to be the ghost of a Saxon nun known as Sister Editha who founded her order in the ninth century. Her nuns were said to have been expelled from a nearby convent by Robert de Marmion when he took possession of the Tamworth lands and castle given him by William I. The angry prayers of the nuns called Editha from her grave, and legend has it that she severely attacked de Marmion in his bedroom. The terrified nobleman restored the convent to the nuns, but Editha's ghost stayed in the castle to assure the future of her sisters and their successors forever. She still walks the castle and has reputedly been seen on the staircase and in the bedroom many times. The White Lady reportedly appears on the terrace around the castle on windswept, stormy nights. She is said to have witnessed from the terrace the death of her lover, a wicked knight named Tarquin, who was killed in combat at Tamworth Castle by none other than Sir Lancelot of King Arthur's Court.
In 1327, the Ferrers lost another major architectural possession and title. Loxley Hall and the estate surrounding it in neighbouring Uttoxeter parish, Staffordshire passed through marriage to the Kynnersleys of Kynnersley Castle, Herefordshire, when John Kynnersley married Joanna de Ferrers, sister and heiress of Thomas de Ferrers, Lord of Loxley. Loxley parish, four miles southeast of Stratford, is one of the legendary birthplaces of Robin Hood, also known as Robin of Locksley, situated on a hill overlooking the Avon valley. If there really was a Saxon nobleman whose family was ousted from Loxley Hall by the Norman invaders, chances are the ancestors of Robin Hood got the boot from a Ferrers. Most contemporary historians now believe that Robin Hood may have been Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, who appears to have succeeded his father David (1152 - 1219). David, a brother of William the Lion, king of Scotland, took part in Henry III's losing rebellion against his father Henry II in 1173-74, taking part in the siege of Nottingham along with William de Ferrers, third Earl of Derby. And like the Ferrers family, David's Fitzooth family paid a heavy price in titles and lands after picking the wrong side of the Barons' Rebellion. So did Henry III, who predeceased his father. David eventually resolved his differences with Henry II -- and again like the Ferrers family, rebuilt his lands and titles by aligning himself with Richard the Lion-Hearted who became king in 1089 following the death of his father. But unlike the Ferrers earls, David fell out with Richard's brother and successor King John. And therein lies the legend. Did David have a son named Robert or Robin? It is known he had a son named Robert who died in infancy, and may have given that name to a second son born later, as was common in that era of English history. Robert of Loxley or Robin of Loxley. Robert Hood or Robin Hood. The names are almost interchangeable throught English history, literature and chronicles.
The town of Uttoxeter is of great antiquity, a British settlement afterwards occupied by the Romans. Historian John Leland calls it 'Uttok-Cester', and says ãthe menne of the towne usith grasing, for there be wonderful pastures on Dove. It longith to the erledom of Lancaster, and has a free school, founded by a priest, Thomas Alleyne, who founded another at Stone, in the reign of Queen Mary." At the Norman Conquest, the manor belonged to the King, but it was afterwards given to Henry de Ferrers, whose descendents were subsequently created Earls of Derby, one of whom forfeited it in the rebellion against Henry III. Henry bestowed it, with the honour of Tutbury, on his younger son, Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, from whose family it passed back to the Crown with the other possessions of the Duchy of Lancaster. But it eventually was returned to the Ferrers. In 1252, Earl Ferrers granted the burgesses a charter of privileges, and in 1308, they obtained a charter from the Earl of Lancaster for a market every Wednesday, and a fair ãon the eve, day, and morrow of St. Mary Magdalen." Finally, it passed to the Kynnersly family through marriage and yet another extinction of the Ferrers line. During the civil wars of the 17th century, Uttoxeter was harrassed by the forces of the contending parties, and large sums were levied on the inhabitants by Royalists and Parliamentarians alike. King Charles I visited several times, and the loyalty of the town was signalled by the ringing of the church bells during his presence. In 1646, the town was visited by the plague, with heavy loss of life. In 1672, most of the lower part of the town was consumed by an accidental fire. At the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the town answered the general alarm raised throughout the country by the enemies of the Catholics. The late distinguished Admiral Lord Gardner was born in Uttoxeter in 1742, and died at Bath in 1810. Another eminent native was Sir Simon Degge, an antiquary, well known for his manuscript notes on Plot's Natural History of Staffordshire. Uttoxeter was long noted for the manufacture of clock cases and watch movements, but this trade was ruined in the 1800's by the cheap Dutch and American clocks.
Thomas Kynnersley's tomb of alabaster in the Uttoxeter parish church shows him in armour modelled after that he had worn during the War of the Roses. Three Kynnersleys held the office of Sheriff of Staffordshire, including Craven Kynnersley, who met a tragic end. Kynnersley was out hunting on Loxley estate the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, 1735, when his excited dog jumped up at him, causing his gun to discharge and fatally wound him. A stone obelisk marks the spot in a field near Loxley Hall where Kynnersley became the only English sheriff ever shot and killed by a dog. The Kynnersleys remained at Loxley Hall for nearly 500 years. When the last male descendant Clement Kynnersley died in 1815, Loxley Hall and the estate passed into the Sneyd family. Death duties and taxes eventually forced the Sneyds to sell it off, and Loxley Hallnow serves the community as a secondary school, belonging to Staffordshire county council.
The last great bastion of the staunchly Catholic Ferrers of Groby was in Baddesley Clinton parish in Warwickshire in the form of a manor that stayed in the family for 510 years. Strangely, Henry de Ferrieres had been awarded only three manors by William I in all of Warwick, and Baddesley Clinton was not among them. The parish lies about four miles south of Kenilworth and seven miles northwest of Warwick. The village became deserted in the Middle Ages, repopulated slowly following the Black Death. Its site is near Baddesley Clinton Hall, described as a perfect example of a medieval semi-fortified manor house complete with moat. The Ferrers family acquired Baddesley Clinton by marriage in 1470. The house was already more than a century old when they took possession. A couple of generations later Henry Ferrers, "the Antiquary," inherited the estate. Born in 1549, Henry ran Baddesley Clinton for almost 70 years after inheriting the title in 1565. He had the family heraldic shields done in stained glass windows that still adorn the home. The moat was rebuilt and survives, and the interior of the house incorporates fine heraldic chimney pieces, family portraits, so-called "priest holes" where the family hid fleeing Roman Catholic clergy during the fractious 1590s, and a private chapel. Henry kept a meticulously detailed diary of his life, and nine years of that diary -- 1620 to 1629 --still survive. The passages offer a remarkable insight into post-Tudor country life in the English Midlands. On Nov. 2, 1622, Henry wrote about his major meal of the day: "Had to dinner a necke of motton and potage, a piece of powdered biefe and cabage, a leg of goose broyled, a rabbet, a piece of an apple tart, cheese, apples and pears . . .I was very sick in the night and had the sciatica, the collick and a surfeit of the pork in my stomack." It's a wonder he didn't explode.
Speaking of which, Henry the Antiquary was also peripherally involved in the Gunpowder Plot. In 1589 he found himself in London practising law in order to raise money for his extensive remodelling of Baddesley Clinton. He bought a house in Westminster next to the Houses of Parliament, which was handy, because he had been elected member for Cirencester in 1593 as well. Eventually, he decided to move back to Baddesley, and leased his London house to Thomas Percy, one of the ringleaders in the Gunpowder plot, in 1604. It was in the Ferrers house that Guy Fawkes stored the barrels of gunpowder with which he had planned to blow up Parliament in 1605. Of course, the plot never came to fruition, and Henry the Antiquary was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The Antiquary died in 1633 and the final renovations he ordered to the manor house were completed the following year. The gardens surrounding Henry's architectural legacy include a bright representation of the Ferrers family arms in the centre of a courtyard sown in a lawn in 1890. Later Ferrers owners also commissioned a good deal of work on the grounds including a forecourt and walled garden from the 18th Century as well as a Victorian wooded garden with rhododendrons. But the walled garden was opened up into a single space by Thomas Ferrers in the 1940s and a more modern scheme was devised by Britain's National Trust when the house was taken over in 1980. The Trust says that Baddesley Clinton is today one of the finest examples of a 15th Century moated manor house in all of the British Isles. Baddesley Clinton is a Warwickshire house that demonstrates the prosperity of the English heartland long before Birmingham was little more than a minor market town, even though the manor kept its Ferrers owners on the edge of bankruptcy for generations.
However, another spectacular country manor house remained in the control of the Ferrers earls into the 1950s -- Staunton Harold Hall in Leicestershire, which sent 13 earls of Ferrers to the House of Lords from Staunton Harold, a village in Leicestershire. The name Staunton derives from "stoney town", in an area of sandstone, lime and coal. In 1066, Henry de Ferrers was given land at Staunton by William the Conqueror. Henry in turn gave some of his lands to Alan de Lecha, descendant of an ancient family of that name, who held it until 1101, when his son Harold de Lecha became Lord of the Manor at Staunton. A document dated 1357 shows that also around this time a Saxon family, the Shirleys, were already established in a village of that name in Derbyshire. By the beginning of the 12th century three families dominated the history of Staunton: Ferrars or Ferrieres; De Lecha, Alan and Harold, from East Leake; and the Sewalus family, which also owned land in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and took the name Shirley around 1240. The Shirleys had retained some good Saxon names such as Sewalus, Fulcher, Matilda, Ralph and Eldred. They were a proud, notable family but had done nothing to gain great acclaim, although their knights later won distinctions in the Crusades taking the Saracen's Head as the family Coat of Arms. A later Ralph Shirley was created a Banneret in 1487, during the Battle of East Stoke. Another Shirley became the first colonial governor of Virginia in the early 1600s, while yet another was governor of Massachusetts from 1741 until 1756.
The first house at Staunton was built by Sir William de Staunton in 1324 and became the home of the Shirley family in 1423 when Sir Ralph Shirley married Margaret de Staunton. She was the heiress of her family's estate -- a family that dated back to Saxon times. The second Baronet, Henry Shirley, married Dorothy Devereux, daughter of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, whose family had the title Lord Ferrers of Chartley, which was adopted in 1711 by the Shirley family when Robert Shirley was created Ist Earl Ferrers and Viscount Tamworth. In 1611 George Shirley, a staunch Roman Catholic, bought a baronetcy from James I for the bargain basement price of £l,095, which covered 30 foot soldiers for three years at 8d per day for the fighting in Ireland. The Stewart king decided to flog off the order of baronets to finance the plantation of Ulster, a symbol of which was the Red Hand. George Shirley was one of the first subscribers and the Red Hand was incorporated into the family crest. It can still be seen on the crest over the organ in the chapel at Staunton Harold.
George's grandson, the fourth baronet Sir Robert Shirley, was a defiant Royalist during the civil wars. In 1653 he built a beautiful example of 17th century "'Gothic Survival" next to the manor -- a Roman Catholic church he had named Holy Trinity as a mark of his defiance. Oliver Cromwell was more than a little unhappy with Lord Ferrers' taste in churches, and was also convinced that Robert was working behind the scenes for restoration of the monarchy in the form of Charles II, then in exile. Cromwell said that if Sir Robert Shirley could cough up the cash to build a Catholic Church, he could afford to raise a regiment, or build a ship of war. Sir Robert refused to do this and was promptly imprisoned in the Tower of London, his seventh and final trip to the Bloody Tower. He died there at the age of 28, among indications that he had been poisoned by his political and religious enemies. Sir Robert's suspicious death prevented him from realizing his dreams of rebuilding Staunton Harold Hall, and it was left to his second son, Robert Shirley, who added a five-bay wing to the rambling medieval house. Following Robert's death his wife received a letter of commiseration from King Charles II and a promise to restore the family's lands and titles. The chapel is still as it was, filled with the entombed remains of many generations of earls and their families. It is now maintained by the National Trust, with the following inscription carved above the main entrance three and a half centuries ago: "In the year 1653, when all things sacred were throughout ye nation either demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley Baronet founded this church, whose singular praise it is to have done ye best things in ye worst times, the righteous shall be held in everlasting reverence."
The present Palladian-style Hall was built in the 18th century by Washington Shirley, the 5th Earl Ferrers. The horseshoes that appear on the fireplaces, tombs, walls and gateposts and are in use as doorknockers, most likely came into being from the Ferrers name and its derivation. But there is an unusual story told that when Mary Queen of Scots fled from another Ferrers property, Chartley Castle in Staffordshire, she rode away on a horse shod with horseshoes mounted backwards to mislead her pursuers. The eeriest tale from the estate has to do with a stone lion that lies atop the hall roof parapet. The legend is that when the lion hears the stroke of midnight, he comes down to the lake to drink -- much more exciting than the usual apparitions said to appear in England's old houses and castles. Finally, to the Bull's head, seen on the fireplace in the entrance hall. This symbol originates from the Chartley side of the family and is thought to represent the Chartley Cattle, a herd of white cattle that goes back to Roman times.
Sewallis, the 10th earl (1847-1912) and his family were the last to live in great style at Staunton Harold Hall. Their late Victorian lifestyle was nothing short of lavish. Sewallis spent a fortune on such fripperies as an Orangery, an estate-owned brewery with its own Beer and Ale Cellars and many other extravagant but utterly unnecessary additions. The family was on the edge of financial ruination when he died two years before the outbreak of the First World War. Despite his poor financial instincts, Sewallis was a gentleman of the first order, even with his legion of servants.The 10th Earl and Countess looked after their servants well, and on occasions of marriage had provided gifts such as leather armchairs and a china tea and breakfast service. The Ilth Earl, Waiter Knight Shirley, continued this practice of keeping the servants happy, saying: "Make them comfortable after a day's work and there is more chance they will agree."
During the Second World War the hall was requisitioned by the British Army as a barracks for troops, and later for Italian prisoners of war. It was handed back in such a state of disrepair that the Ferrers family was unable to re-occupy it. In the absence of adequate compensation, they decided to sell. On the eve of the auction, October 11, 1954, Robert, the 12th Earl Ferrers died -- it is said by some of a broken heart. Shortly after the sale, the purchaser announced his plans -- the hall would be demolished. A government Preservation Order gave Staunton Harold Hall a six-month stay of execution. But no use could be found for the hall until, with five weeks to spare, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire purchased it as a home for disabled people. In 1981 the Leonard Cheshire Foundation decided that a specially planned single-storey building was needed and four years later they moved from Staunton Hall. Leonard Chesire and his wife, Lady Ryder, had been thinking about establishing a Centre in Britain for their joint organization, The Ryder-Cheshire Mission. Staunton with its central location, sound and spacious structure together with its beautiful environs, seemed like an ideal place. So, a new phase in the history of Staunton Harold began shortly thereafter. The 13th Earl Ferrers, Robert, born in 1929, now lives in Ditchingham in Suffolk, where he has erected the original Golden Gates entranceway from Staunton Harold.
Perhaps the most famous -- or infamous -- of the dozen or so Ferrers earls was Lawrence Shirley, who was 25 when he became fourth Earl Ferrers on the death of his uncle in August, 1745. Lawrence was regarded as a capable if somewhat eccentric aristocrat, frequently lapsing into fits of savage, cruel temper. In 1752 he married a daughter of Amos Meredith, son of Sir William Meredith of Henbury, Cheshire. Six years later she obtained an Act of Parliament separating her from Lawrence for keeps on grounds of "the cruelty of the said earl." Around the same time, the estates he inherited from his uncle became vested in trustees. John Johnson, the earl's steward who had been in the family's service for many years, was appointed receiver of rents.
Ferrers hated Johnson and came to the conclusion that the steward was doing his best to undermine him and his title. The obsession grew until finally, on Jan. 14, 1760, the earl took out a pistol and shot Johnson, who died the next day after telling all who would listen that Lawrence had pulled the trigger. The earl was arrested and taken to a public house in Ashby where he was detained for two days. From there, he was escorted to the County Gaol in Leicester. A Grand Jury empanelled in Blue Boar Lane brought down an indictment against Lawrence, and Lord Ferrers was taken to the Tower of London to await trial at Westminster Hall before a full court of his fellow peers.
As the law then stood, anyone accused of murder was not entitled to a lawyer, could not be represented by counsel. All that Lord Ferrers could do was present his case to the peers himself, without risking any cross-examination. The earl tried to show that he had gone crazy and was not responsible for his actions but the lords rejected his pleadings. They found him guilty and sentenced him to death by hanging. Shortly after exhausting his last avenues of appeal, Lord Ferrers was driven from the Tower to Tyburn in his own landau drawn by six horses. He walked up the stairs to scaffold clad in a fashionable light-colored suit trimmed with silver. And there he was hanged, on May 5, 1760, the last British peer sentenced to death by the House of Lords. His body was put on public view, and finally he was buried at St. Pancras Church in London.
People were still fighting over the Ferrers name and title as late as 1914, when the name again came before the House of Lords. A man named Marmion Edward Ferrers of Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire, had been a co-heir to the barony by female descent, and also the male heir to the ancient Norman family of Ferrers. His wife, Rebecca Dulcibella Orpen, was an artist who left a legacy of beautiful paintings on the walls of the home she had done of the manor and the lands around it that thoroughly captured the romantic character of the estate in the 19th century. However, she and Marmion, who died in 1884, had no issue. All his brothers died similarly short of heirs, save one -- Charles Ferrers, who had died in 1873. Charles had resided in England. with his mother, brothers and sisters at Baddesley Clinton Hall until about 1840, when he moved to a farm called Hampton Lodge near Warwick. He had earlier gotten involved with a girl named Sarah Pittaway, a sometimes servant in his mother's home. They had several illegitimate children and in 1850 Charles moved the entire brood across the Atlantic to Bremen in Cook County, Illinois. He never married Sarah and died a bachelor on Feb. 3, 1873 in Illinois, leaving five sons and three daughters, two of whom had been born in Warwick prior to the family's departure from England. Those two had been baptized and named "Pittaway," rather than Ferrers, with no father's name on their birth certificates.
Moreover, a letter surfaced that Charles had written in 1857 to one of his brothers in which he said: "This woman Pittaway is a regular devil in the house. Disputes everything I say or do and tries to set the children against me on all occasions. . .I am thankful that I did not marry her." However, Sarah contradicted this in testimony before a judge in Cook County after Charles' death. She claimed she married him soon after they arrived in the U.S. "at the age of 21 years." Legitimate or illegitimate, those eight children were descended from generations of the most ancient Norman lineage. The House of Lords heard all the evidence and came down on the side of the Staunton Harold Ferrers rather than those of dubious ancestry from Baddesley Clinton wing of the family.
The contemporary "Ferris" spelling of the family surname does not actually materialize in English records until1548. It seems to separarate middle- and lower-class members of the family from the aristocratic Ferrers, who still thought of themselves as an important element of Britain's upper class elite. It also seems to separate the Catholic Ferrers from the predominantly Protestant Ferris's. From the the middle 1500s on, the number of Ferrers appearing in church registers and government records steadily shrinks. It lingered with the baronetcy and the bluebloods, but by the time of the Cromwell revolution was overtaken and passed in vaste numbers by the more modern variants, Ferris, Farris and to a far lesser extent, Ferrier.
There are Germans and Dutchmen bearing the old surname and its modern variants as well in Canadian and U.S. records, probably descendants of Ferrers bluebloods from Normandy and England who intermarried with European royalty. There is even a strain of Ferrers and Ferris's from the Middle East, where the surname seems to have endured through intermarriage since the time of the Crusades. Virtually all of the 111 Ferris men and women surveyed in the 1871 Ontario census listed themselves as Irish, British, English or Scottish. The Irish predominated by a wide margin. The Ferris family appears to have supplied a fair number of "colonists" when the British government sought to conquer Ireland and eliminate Catholocism by shipping in Protestant settlers from England and Scotland. In fact, the Mormon Church has listings for 841 Ferris family members in the north and the south of Ireland, families which sent a flood of descendants across the Atlantic to Ontario. They were, by and large, Protestants -- Wesleyan Methodists and Presbyterians.
Some of those Presbyterians may also trace back to Scottish ancestry, in the Highlands as part of the Clan Ferguson, deported to the Ulster Plantations in large numbers during the Clearances. The Fergusons maintain that the surname "Ferris" is one of many similar names deriving from Fergus. The problem is that Irish records are virtually non-existent, particularly for the tens of thousands of Ulster settlers from Scotland and England, sent over by the Stuarts, the Cromwells and the Hanoverian kings to break the Celtic and Catholic hold on Ireland.
How did the family come to the Americas? The very first Ferris anywhere in the New World was a man named Jeffery Ferris, said to have been born about 1610 in Leicestershire, probably at Staunton Harold Hall -- or perhaps Greenwich in Kent, across the Thames from London, where the family reportedly maintained a residence as well. He is said to have crossed the Atlantic with Anne Howard, a daughter of the blue-blooded and very powerful Howard family which originated in Norfolk. The Howards had produced one of Henry VIII's executed wives a century earlier, and a host of lords and knights beheaded for various political sins by Henry and his successors. Jeffery was probably a younger son of one of the junior Ferris nobles. Family legend says that Jeffery the commoner and Anne, a titled lady, married in secret and fled England for Boston in 1634 to escape the vengeful wrath of Anne's politically powerful father Thomas Howard. But there are no records of such a marriage, and she may simply have been his mistress, since there are records of other marriages involving Jeffery.
Jeffery took the Freeman's Oath of Loyalty to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the Boston Court House on May 6, 1635. The freemen were the only colonists given the right to vote, and the franchise was by no means offered to all male settlers. One generally had to be a mature male church member who had experienced "a transforming spiritual experience by God's grace," as attested by himself and confirmed by church leaders. As a result, the Freemen represented a very small extremely powerful percentage of the Commonwealth's early settlers, a number lessened even further by the refusal of many religious zealots to utter the text for fear of divine retribution. But Jeffery apparently took it at the first opportunity:
ãI, Jeffery Ferris, being, by the Almighty's most wise disposition, become a member of this body, consisting of the Governor, Deputy Governor, Assistants and a commonalty of the Mattachusets in New England, do freely and sincerely acknowledge that I am justly and lawfully subject to the government of the same, and do accordingly submit my person and estate to be protected, ordered, and governed by the laws and constitutions thereof, and do faithfully promise to be from time to time obedient and conformable thereunto, and to the authority of the said Governor and Assistants and their successors, and to all such laws, orders, sentences, and decrees as shall be lawfully made and published by them or their successors; and I will always endeavor (as in duty I am bound) to advance the peace and welfare of this body or commonwealth to my utmost skill and ability; and I will, to my best power and means, seek to divert and prevent whatsoever may tend to the ruin or damage thereof, or of any the said Governor, Deputy Governor, or Assistants, or any of them or their successors, and will give speedy notice to them, or some of them, of any sedition, violence, treachery, or other hurt or evil which I shall know, hear, or vehemently suspect to be plotted or intended against the said commonwealth, or the said government established; and I will not at any time suffer or give consent to any counsel or attempt that shall be done, given, or attempted for the impeachment of the said government, or making any change alteration of the same, contrary to the laws and ordinances thereof, but shall do my utmost endeavor to discover, oppose, and hinder all and every such counsel andattempt. So help me God."
Jeffery settled in what is now Connecticut as one of the founders of Greenwich, and went on to have four sons and a daughter, all of whom showered him with grandchildren, literally by the dozens. Jeffery also set to work assembling his own fortune, becoming a major player in colonial real estate. For instance, the surviving records show that on June 20, 1645, Jeffrey sold John Deming a homestead of four acres (which John subsequently sold to his brother-in-law, Thomas Standish) and five other parcels. The Ferris grandchildren and great grandchildren fanned out across the Thirteen Colonies, in the vanguard of settlers' migrations to New York, Ohio, Indiana, the Carolinas, Kentucky and many other future states. But not all of them were loyal Americans. When the American Revolution broke out, many Ferris's remained loyal to the British Crown, classifying themselves as United Empire Loyalists and headed north for Canada -- mainly the Maritimes and Ontario during the 1780's. The revolution appears to have split the Ferris family down the middle. Things were so tense that many Ferris men opposed to the revolt abandoned their Connecticut homesteads and moved across Long Island Sound to safer royalist ground in New York, while other moved from New York to Connecticut to align themselves with the rebels.
Samuel Ferris shows as another of the early Ferris emigrants from Britain to the New World. Samuel was born in Reading, Berkshire, England in 1616, and married Jerusha Reed there in 1647. It looks as though they left Britain for the New World almost immediately after marrying in the middle of a country torn by the Civil War, perhaps for political or religious reasons. In any event, the couple first settled in Charlestown, Suffolk County in Massachusetts, where their son Zacheriah was born in 1648. They subsequently moved to Newtown, Fairfield County, Connecticut, where the family became a major economic force, landowners and pioneering farmers on a large scale. Their original home in Fairfield County is still standing and has been designated a national historic site. Another branch sprang up in New York -- Queens and Herkimer counties. It's not known if Samuel and Jeffery were related. Chances are they were, but how closely is not known.
The American Revolution precipitated one of the great migrations in human history, as literally tens of thousands of United Empire Loyalists fled from the United States of America into what is now Canada. Approximately 35,000 Loyalists went to Nova Scotia, including entire Ferris families, and some 9,000 entered Quebec. The impact was immense. The population of peninsular Nova Scotia was doubled; north of the Bay of Fundy, where there had been fewer than 1,750 people of European descent in 1780, 14,000 to 15,000 Loyalists dominated the new colony of New Brunswick. Perhaps 1,000 more settled on the still sparsely peopled islands of Saint John, which became Prince Edward Island after 1798, and Cape Breton, which became a separate colony in 1784 and remained so until 1820 when it rejoined Nova Scotia. In Upper Canada, approximately 7,000 Loyalists occupied hitherto almost empty territory at the head of Lake Erie, in the Niagara peninsula, around the Bay of Quinte and along the north shore of the St. Lawrence.
The Ferris men who arrived in New Brunswick from Connecticut and New York claimed large acreages of land around Saint John and Fredericton in 1784 and 1785, some nine large tracts in Sunbury County alone, putting together a series of substantial farming estates. George, Abraham and John Ferris appear to have led the exodus. The New Brunswick Ferris family produced one of Canada's first members of Parliament, an opposition Liberal elected to the House of Commons in the first election following Confederation in 1867. John Ferris was a prosperous lumber merchant born Jan. 9, 1811 Queens County, New Brunswick. He served in the House until he was defeated in 1878.
Another great exodus got under way from Ireland to Canada in the 1830s with the outbreak of the Irish Potato Famine. In the two years following 1832, some 80,000 Irish landed on Canadian soil, continuing to arrive every season in sailing vessels, mostly wooden tubs used in the lumber trade to transport Canadian timber overseas and bring back immigrants. According to the report of the Agents for Emigrants, 164,338 Irish landed in Quebec in the 10 years ending in 1836, "a convenient stopping-place on the way to the Far West" and to what was then Upper Canada. Thousands of Irish Catholics chose to make their homes in Quebec, despite the language difficulties, populating large segments of Montreal and Quebec City. In the insurrection of 1837, the Irish community sided with the French Canadians in their fight against the English oligarchy suppressing them.
A cholera epidemic in1847 will always stand out in the history of the Irish in Canada. In the summer of that year, 100,000 men, women, and children, fleeing from famine and death in Ireland, "were stricken with fever and were lying helpless in the riverports and seaports of Canada." Thousands of them -- Catholics and Protestant alike -- found only death and graves where they had hoped to find prosperous lives and new homes. Officially, some 4,192 Irish immigrants died at sea en route to Canada. Another 4,579 lost their lives at the Grosse Isle quarantine site established by British authorities for the sick and infirm. In Quebec City, cholera claimed 712 lives, 5,348 in Montreal, 963 in Toronto, thousands more in St. John, New Brunswick., and other places on the route from the Maritimes into the Canadian heartland. Other more trustworthy reports declare the number dead and buried on Grosse Isle alone at well over 10,000, while Dr. Douglas, a medical superintendent at the time, estimated that at least 8,000 had been buried at sea. The best guess seems to be that the 1847 epidemic claimed close to 25,000 Irish lives.
Our direct ancestor Robert Ferris of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, came over to Canada in the middle of the cholera holocaust. County Fermanagh (Fear Manach, "Region of the Monks") was incorporated into the Plantation of Ulster early in the 1600s following the defeat of the O'Neills. That, in turn, triggered a large influx of settlers from England and Scotland. In 1610, the Crown developed an elaborate, detailed and rigidly controlled scheme for the settlement of Armagh, Donegal, Cavan, Fermanagh and Londonderry. Nine extensive areas in these six counties were assigned for plantation. These baronies, or precincts, were then divided into lots of 1,000, 1,500, and 2,000 acres, not including bogs and mountains. Those who received these lots were termed ãundertakers." A Chief Undertaker who was allowed to receive up to 3,000 acres, was placed over each barony. Chief Undertakers were chosen by the King and included one Duke, one Earl, three Barons and four Knights. Fifty ordinary Undertakers were then chosen by the Chiefs. All Undertakers were expected to be on their land by Sept. 30, 1610. On every 1,000 acres received, there had to be 24 ablebodied Scots or Englishmen over families to minimize old clan allegiances. Two of the families were to be freeholders; three were to be leaseholders, and the remainder were cottagers. Undertakers had to muster their tenants twice a year and to provide them with weapons. They were called on to fight any insurrections of the Irish. Undertakers were given 3 1/2 years to erect fortifications, the type determined by the size of the lot granted. Men of 2,000 acres, for example, were required to build a small castle of stone or brick, with a stone wall surrounding it. All Undertakers had to post bonds guaranteeing their compliance with the conditions. Failure to comply resulted in forfeiture of the land.
Enniskillen is a parliamentary and municipal borough founded in 1641 by Sir William Cole, a thriving market town, and parish and capital of the county of Fermanagh, mostly built on an island, on the river connecting Upper and lower Lough Erne, 87 miles northwest of Dublin. The origins of the island town go back to prehistory when this short nexus was the main highway between Ulster and Connaught. Of all the surnames associated with the county one stands out: Maguire. From the time of its first firm establishment, in Lisnaskea around the start of the13th century, all the associations of the family have been with Fermanagh. By the start of the 14th century, the chief of the family, Donn Carrach Maguire, was ruler of the entire county, and for the following three centuries there were no fewer than 15 Maguire chieftains of the territory. By 1600, what is now County Fermanagh quite simply belonged to the family. It is still the single most common surname in the county. Enniskillen Castle, now a museum, was the medieval seat of the Maguires, who policed the lough with a private navy of 1,500 boats. The Maguires aligned themselves with the OâNeills following the Ulster Plantationm and were finally defeated and driven out of Enniskillen Castle in 1642 by a British force headed by Sir William Stewart.
Following the Plantation, the inhabitants warmly supported the Protestant cause in the war of 1689, successfully defending their town against King James' forces, and afterwards distinguished themselves at the battle of the Boyne. The Enniskilliners formed their own famous regiment known as the Enniskillen Dragoons, which fought with distinction at Waterloo and many other battles down through history. However, the religious colonization project was less successful in Fermanagh than in other counties, and a majority of the Fermanagh population remained Roman Catholic into present times. The population of the town the emigrating Ferris families had left behind was 5,686 in 1856. At that time, it was described in Lippincott's Pronouncing Gazette as ãwell built, and has a county court house and prison and a townhall, in which are preserved the banners borne by the Enniskilleners at the battle of the Boyne, a richly endowed school, large barracks, an infirmary, union work-house, linen-hall, two or three branch banks, two weekly newspapers, and a small manufactory of cutlery." The Buttermarket is now a craft centre featuring lace, knitwear and Belleek china. Shakespeare's contemporary, Edmund Spenser, wrote about Enniskillen in the 16th century. Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett were both pupils at the royal school in the town.
Not much is known about the Ferris people in Enniskillen. It appears that the surname was spelled "Faris" during the 1700s and early 1800s, and that spelling endured with many family members who eventually emigrated to Canada. The first Faris to put in an appearance in Fermanagh records was one Robert Faris, registered in the poll of electors for 1788. That poll was open only to Protestants (Ulster Plantation people) not married to Catholic women, who were freeholders. Robert was a freeholder from Enniskillen, very possibly the father or grandfather of the Robert Ferris who came to Canada. The 1788 poll also recorded Thomas Faris as a freeholder on the Island of Innishgriffen, living on Bolton Street in Dublin when the poll was conducted; and William Faris, a freeholder at Ennisgriffen, who lived in County Cavin; The first family records in County Fermanagh for the Faris/Ferris family record the marriage of Jonathan Faris of Clabby, a townland division in Enniskillen, and Jane Donaldson of Drumresk on Feb. 18, 1801 in Inismacsaint.. A few months later, the birth of Elizabeth Faris was recorded Oct. 25, 1801, at Inismacsaint Church Hill, daughter of Mathew Faris and Mary Scott. They resided at a location called Tabogh This locale figures prominently in the family. The birth of Susanna Faris to Thomas Faris and Margaret Beers was recorded there June 26, 1803. This family resided in Blaney. And John Faris and Abigail Johnston were married at Inismacsaint April 7, 1808, noting it as their place of residence as well. They recorded the birth of their son Matthew at Inismacsaint June 24, 1810, noting their place of residence as Blaney at that time. There are no listings whatsoever for the family under the Ferris spelling in that era.
Only one Ferris birth is recorded there in the Mormons' International Genealogical Index, that of Jane Ferris, born Aug. 17, 1865, the daughter of John Ferris and Bessy Mullen. John shows in Griffith's Valuation of Ireland, 1848-1864, as the owner of two residential properties in the Enniskillen townsite, on Eden and Water streets. Another Robert Ferris owned rural properties in Imeroo and Tullyullagh in and around Enniskillen. And three men named Joseph, Matthew and Thomas Ferris owned properties in Ramaley, Lurganclabby and Drummackan respectively. These were apparently Ferris men who for the most part remained behind in Ulster, the descendants of Ferris settlers who travelled to Ireland in the first half of the 17th century from England to partake of the Ulster Plantation.
Even less is known about the early Ferris people who settled in Upper Canada prior to Confederation. Many of the children of the first Ferris wave into New Brunswick eventually headed west into Ontario, and some of them in turn moved into Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the middle 1800s. Another large contingent of Ferris men and women entered northern Ontario and Manitoba as employees of the Hudson's Bay Company in the mid-1800s. Moose Factory at the southern tip of James Bay was full of Ferris traders. So were a number of other key trading posts across what was then known as the Northwest Territories. They were Red River colonists as well, and settled as far west as Oxbow in Saskatchewan's Souris Valley long before Confederation in 1867.
The forest industry -- and politics -- seemed to hold a special attraction for the Ferris men. In Ontario, Irish-born lumberman James Marshall Ferris became a major economic force in the Campbellford area in the late 1800s. He expanded from the forest industry into a number of related fields, using the fortune he amassed to acquire substantial tracts of land on the south side of the town. The Ferris family donated that land to the province of Ontario in 1962 for the establishment of a park. In the late 1990s, the park had a very close call -- the tight-fisted Harris Conservative government in Ontario closed the park in 1998. However, the town of Campbellford and the Township of Seymour rallied behind the park and took over its management. Since then, the $30,000 annual deficit has been eliminated and the park is turning a modest profit. Today, Ferris Provincial Park is preserved as a recreational area encompassing a number of attractions -- scenic stone fences, an eye-pleasing mix of field and forest, and historical sites such as Sheepwash Point and the Shingle Valley, reminders of Ferris and the pioneer era. James was also a Liberal member of Parliament for Northumberland East for a number of years.
There is a glacier named after a member of the Ferris family in the extreme northwest corner of British Columbia. Ferris Glacier is on the B.C.-Alaska boundary between Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in B.C. and Glacier Bay National Park on the U.S. side. The name was adopted in the summer of 1922 by the International Boundary Commission, in honor of William Cant Ferris, a member of the Canadian survey party engaged in surveying the boundary from 1909 until 1914. He also served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War -- one of the 132 Ferris men who went to war for Canada, 19 of whom were killed in action. Two other geographical features are believed to have been named after him in British Columbia: Ferris Creek, near Falkland northwest of Vernon in the Okanagan Valley, was named in 1921 and the name was officially adopted on Nov. 3, 1932. And a peak northeast of the junction of Ferriston Creek and the Omineca River was named Mount Ferris in 1917, a name officially adopted on Dec. 7, 1950.
The Ferris tapestry in the United States is, predictably, much more vaste, with many thousands of Jeffery's descendants there over the last three centuries. Eight American communities bear the Ferris name: Ferris, Hancock County, Illinois; Ferris, Ellis County, Texas; Ferris, Butler County, Pennsylvania; Ferris, Carbon County, Wyoming; Ferris, Lewis and Clark County, Montana; Ferrisburg, Addison County, Vermont; Ferris Corners, Crawford County, Pennsylvania and Ferristown, Brown County, Ohio. There is even a haunted house in Cincinatti bearing the name -- Ferris House, said to be the permanent residence still of Ann Ferris, who died almost 150 years ago.
Perhaps the most famous of all the modern Ferris men and women is the man who invented the wheel. George Washington Gale Ferris was an Illinois-born steel manufacturer and engineer raised in Nevada whose lineage traces directly back to Jeffery Ferris, and another 25 generations before him to the Seigneur de Ferrieres in the late 900s. George dreamed up, designed and built the world's first Ferris Wheel for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, in response to the challenge the previous exposition in Paris had presented in the form of the Eiffel Tower. There are thousands of Ferris Wheels today all over the world, still utilizing the basic principles and construction techniques conceived by George Ferris.
And another family inventor -- Nathan Olmsted Ferris (born Feb. 11, 1801 Herkimer County, N.Y., died Nov. 19, 1850 California) -- earned his niche in history, however small it might be, back in 1846. He introduced popcorn into Britain. And he did it style, personally preparing a batch for a fascinated Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Buckingham Palace. They became popcorn junkies, and with a royal endorsement, popcorn quickly became a fashionable nationwide fad.
Variations of the Ferris Surname Faires,
Fairess, Fairish, Farash, Fares, Faress, Farese, Faris, Farish, Fariss,
Farras, Farriss, Farrise, Farrish, Feris, Ferise, Ferris, Ferriss, Ferrisse,
Faires, Fairess, Fairish, Farash, Fares, Farries, Faress, Faris, Faries,
Phace, Ferrers, Ferrars, Ferrieres, Ferries, Fearguise, Farris, Farrissa,
Fergus, Ferris, Farris, Ferris, Farrissy, De Ferieres,Farass, Fergus ('g'
is silent), Ferrisse, Ferrus, Ferres, Furass, Furas, Farace, Pharis, Phariss,
Pharris, Pharriss, Phares, Pharies, Pharess, Phace, Pharrus, Phayre, Phayres.