'What's in a Name?'
(Romeo and Juliet, Act II sc.2 - Wm. Shakespeare)

There is an ancient hill fort in the eastern part of Wiltshire dating from the 1st century B.C. which is now known as FOSBURY. It is located at Tidcombe, in the Hundred of Kynewardston. It is said to have been built as a defensive camp against or by the Belgae tribe during their advance into Britain from Gaul.

The Normans who invaded southern England in 1066 were descendants of the Vikings who had invaded northern Britain around 870 ad and later France around 910 ad.

At the time of William the Conqueror in 1066, the Wiltshire fort area was known as FOSTESBERGE and also as FISTESBERIE. In the time of Edward the Confessor, towards the end of the Saxon era, these two areas of land were held by Alwin and by Vitel respectively. While the Saxons used no surnames, we have the first ' Fosbery's ' of record. Next came Rainerus (Reinerius), who was the land holder at the time of William's Domesday survey in 1086.

There is a record in monkish Latin of the numbers of his servants, both bond and free, the rent roll of his land and messuage, and so forth. In the Domesday Book, the first mentioned Norman Landholder of the area was Robert Fitz-Girold. After William's invasion, all lands were reassigned to his people and this area, being reassigned to Robert Fitz Girold (Robert the son of Girold), Rainerus became the sub-tenant - 'held the land of Robert'.

Reinerius and his neighbour, Girauldus, are both recorded in this. At their death the inquest made for mortmain was taken, and as the Normans never Latinised Christian names, nor used any, only one like the Saxons, they wrote their two sons in rolls thus: Jean, so called Johannes de FORTESBURI, son of Reinerius, and Warenne, fils de Girauld. Girauld had little land to leave so his son Warenne was merely called fils de Girauld, while Reinerius' son , Johannes, possessed the Fortesburi, or Saxon fortress, and was therefore called Jean de FORTESBURI.

Research of the name in ancient manuscripts including the Domesday Book, the Ragman Rolls, the Wace Poem, the Honour Roll of the Battel Abbey, the Curia Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll, tax records, parish registers, baptismal records and family genealogies establishes that the name Fosbery also appears early in the County of Northamptonshire where the family was seated as Lords of the Manor.

Through 12th Century during the reigns of Henry's I and II, and Richard I the Wiltshire family extended their possessions and had nearly all the land on either side of the River Kennet into Berkshire and a castle at Southgrove in Savernake, but no castle now remains. They seemed always fighting with each other and there are pages of Latin records concerning the legal disputes of Robert and Alice de FORTESBURI under King Richard I ( 1189 - 1199 ).

In 1244 during the reign of King Henry III, John de FORSTBURY later again referred to as John de FORESTESBI held Southgrove Forest within the Forest of Savernake. In 1274 Peter de FORSTEBURY was 'Forester of Fee' in Savernake Forest to King Edward I, and was also referred to when serving on the jury in the Hundred Rolls of Kynewardeston - as 'Petrus de FORSTEBUR'. Peter died leaving a baby boy, little John FOSBERI with his mother Isabella as guardian. When she died, King Edward I became his guardian.

After the King's death in 1307, when John was twenty-one, he went to King Edward II to claim the three FOSBERI messuages, one thousand argents, in the forest of Savernake, all back rents, etc. Two actual letters from the King exist about it, and the testimony of sundry knights and barons that he was born a FOSBERI, with amusing particulars and dates. The King gave him all the back rent and accumulations, and confirmed him in his possessions.

During these centuries several variations of spelling are found, including de FORTESBURI, de FORTESBOURG, de FOSBERI, FOSTEBURY, FOSBERY, FOSBURY, FOSSBERY, FOSSBURY,FOSBROKE, FOSSEBROOK, FOSSBROOKE, FOLBROOK, FOLLBROOKE, FULLBROOK. FULBROKE, and many others. Scribes recorded and spelled the name as it sounded and it was not uncommon for a person to have his birth recorded with one spelling, to be married under another and to be buried with yet another variation upon his headstone.

� By 1416 in the reign of King Henry V, Andrew FOSTEBURY was a Registered Merchant with his mark or seal recorded, which would be attached in the form of a lead seal to bolts of cloth before shipment.

Andrew's Mark

At the end of the Wars of the Roses, just after Bosworth Field in 1485, every 'beri' of them disappears -- not a trace of them in Wiltshire but the names of their places which are on the maps. There is a record in a Hampshire church of the death of Katherina de FOSBERI in the reign of Henry VII and of money paid by her husband Nicholas FOSBERI for masses for her soul".

The ancient family name continued from this time in the county of Northamptonshire where they were originally seated at Cranford. Later the name was variably spelled Fosbroke and Fossbrooke, and a subsequent branch of the family became established in Derbyshire as Fosbrooke and , or Folbrooke.

In Ireland, settlers were known as 'Adventurers for land in Ireland'. As early as 1172 with the invasion of 'Strongbow' branches of certain Norman Families settled in Ireland. Later with the Plantation of Ulster early in the 17th Century came those who 'undertook' to keep the Protestant faith and occupied the lands of the Irish. The Cromwellian settlements moved other families.

In Ireland in the 17th century, the name became settled under the spelling Fosbery at Clorane and Curraghbridge in the county of Limerick bearing the same coat of arms as the parent family in Derbyshire and Northamptonshire.

Around the same era the democratic way of life of the New World beckoned many. They sailed aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails'. In North America, migrants who may be considered kinsmen of the Family name Fosbery include the name represented and recorded in many variable forms from the 17th Century onwards in the great migration from Europe.

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