The history of the Follansbee name is elusive. On one hand, we have a report called "Report to the Follansbee Association" printed in 1865 by Columbus Smith. This investigation and report was commissioned by the Follansbee Association, a group of American Follansbees investigating and trying to retrieve Follansbee property in England.
The English Follansbees report a family history going back only to a "Ser Follansbee," a Knight who accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. However, a survey of all land holders commissioned by William I in 1086 (The Domesday Book) does not list any Follanbee, Follensby, or variation thereof. It may be that the 702 acre plot belonging to a Knight by the name of Follansbee is true, however being a Knight and not a lord, his name was not recorded as the land owner.
The first name attached to this land is on a record of deed on Feb 16th 1690, where a Thomas Follansbee of Newbury grants to Stephan Greenleaf half of five acres. Here is an excerpt from "Report to the Follansbee Association"; "
“I next went to Salem and examined the records of deeds, and found it no small affair to pore over the old rusty records of two hundred years and over, for I commenced A. D. 1640. The first I found of the name of Follansbee on record, was from “Thomas Follansbee, of Newbury, to one Stephen Greenleaf, Feb. 16th, 1690, half of 5 acres, it being 'the rate lot.' This must be the first from England, and it seems that he had bought land but his deed or deeds were not put upon record. The second deed, I find was to " Thomas Follansbee from Moses Chase, his brother-in-law, November 21st, 1698, in the tenth year of his majesty's reign.'' The third deed, I find from " Thomas Hase. Thomas Bancroft, wives and others, to Thomas Follansbee, Dec. 14th, 1700; the rate lot, 11 acres; the year of the reign of King "William, the Third." This is the last record of a deed from Thomas the first. The fourth deed I find on record was from "John "Webster to Thomas Follansbee, Jr., of Newbury, carpenter, March 11th, 1710, land on upper road above Artichoke River, lot 150 called his freehold lot."
Tracing the aforementioned Thomas Follansbee, I have only found his ancestry as far back as 1530 to his great grandfather William Follansby, b.1530- d.1619
The Follansbee name is fun and fascinating to research. All of the Amerian Follansbees come from Thomas Follansbee, the first American Follansbee, who came to America somewhere around 1677 (at age 40). Considering that Jamestown was est. 1607 and Plymouth Colony (Plymouth Rock) in 1620, while Ellis Island was not opened until 1892, the Follansbee linage is among the early settlers in the U.S.
Follingsby also spelled Follonsby, Folanceby, Folansbye, Folaunceby, Folesceby, Foletesbi, Foleteby, Folettebi.
Jarrow Parish, Thoraldo de Lundoniis (Thorald of London) will to his son Nicholaus Follingsby. Nicholaus came to be known as Nicholaus de Folettebi. (Nicholas of Follingsby)
There are a few theory's on the name:
1) Follingsby which in 1140 was written Foletesbi-representing most probably Fulwihtes-bige, a place of baptism. ([external link])
2.) Scandinavian from the French Folet ([external link]
3.) Full of Troops, town of (By is Danish for town/village) ([external link])
Nationality & Ethnicity
The earliest Follansbees spelled their name Follansby (William Follansbee b. 1530), Follansbye (Thomas Follansbye b. 1560) and Follansbie (Henry Follansbie b.1626). What is most interesting here is how the “By” is still common on many town names in England today. “By” is an old Viking term (750-1100 A.D.) meaning farm/village. The “Report to the Follansbee Association” does mention a Follansbee Town, Follansbee Hall, and Follansbee Farm near Durham, England in 1865.
Follansbee is definitely a Norman name. As argued above, I think it is the combination of Fall and By meaning farm on land cleared of trees. It was a location, as in Thomas from Fallinsby (I.E. the cleared land by Durham). This is all that can actually be substantiated.
The Follansbee lore, is that a Knight, Ser Follansbee accompanied William I from Normandy to England in 1066. This would place our migration further back to the Vikings (Northman) of Normandy. In addition the "Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts Vol IV" lists the coat of arms for the Norman Family Follambe which matches the coat of arms for Sir Thomas Fuljambe of Oberton, bailiff of High Pearth Derbyshire in 1272 soon after the use of surnames began.
These are the earliest records we have of the Follansbee family.