Early Fancher Notes

The Fancher  name has been in America for almost three hundred years and are now found in almost every state in the Union. Until about 1740, the original spelling in Colonial America in three branches of the family was Fanshaw which was replaced by Fancher.  Significant branches have taken the spellings Fansher, Fanchier, and Fanshier which are all pronounced alike. Changes in the spelling were unintentional, but were made in the early days of our country when clerks, teachers, officials and others, with little formal education, spelled the name phonetically when preparing official records.

The Fanshaw name is found in the early records  in two areas of our country.  First, in Norfolk, Virginia and Currituck County, North Carolina, probably descended from Richard who arrived in Norfolk in 1632 aboard the ship Merchants Hope.  Secondly,  on Long Island and in Connecticut, descended from one William Fancy/Fanshaw found in The New Haven Colony in 1643.   There is no known connection between the Fanshaws in the South and those in Connecticut.  The Southern area maintained the name as Fanshaw while the Northern area in time took the Fancher spelling.  This covered in detail in other parts of this web site.  (Return the Home Page and choose Table of Contents and its detailed information.)  Most of us descend from the New York-Connecticut family and are distantly related.

There is no known record of when or how the first Fanshaws arrived and joined the The New Haven Colony.  In the early 1900's, one lady who was in the fourth generation of descendents from these first settlers in Connecticut, stated she had been told by her father that we were French Hugenout and had come into the country at Lloyds Neck, Long Island, New York. Various people have had research done in Europe, but no one has been able to establish a factual link to any family in Europe.

The earliest known use of the Fancher spelling in Colonial America is the marriage of one Catherine Fancher in 1717 in Branford, Connecticut. It appears the original family consisted of two sisters (Catherine and Hannah) and four brothers (William, Richard, John, and David). There was a Joseph Fancher in the Cape May, New Jersey who was a contemporary of this family.

At this time,  It is believed that the parents of the six colonial brothers and sisters came from Long Island and appear to be William Fanshaw and his wife who was probably the Abigail Fanshaw found in the records of Long Island.  The predominate spelling of the family was Fanshaw in Connecticut until about 1740 and was still in use as late as 1760.  The Fanshaw/Fanshawe is an old name in England and is pronounced "Fansh-ore" or "Fansh-your."  This name evolved from Fanshaw to Fansher and Fancher, but Fancher was used by most members. 

Current day Fansher, Fanshier, and Fanchier families come from these people. There is at least one other branch which came in the country in the 1800's. Many Black Americans also carry the name Fancher, and are descended from those freed from slavery in 1865.

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