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Surname:  Fletcher
Branch:  Fletcher
Origins:  British
More Info:  England

Background:  Fletch'er, n. [OF. flechier.] One who fletches or feathers arrows; a manufacturer of bows and arrows." Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, (1996).

Many theories have been proposed regarding the derivation of the surname Fletcher, the commonly accepted trait being vocation: archer or arrow maker. However, the nationality of the primary Fletcher ancestor continues to elude researchers, with ample evidentiary support existing for English (Fletcher), French (de la Flechere), and Scottish (MacInleister).

Motto:  Alta pete, Aim at high things.
Arms:  Sa. a cross, engr. ar. betw. four plates, each charged with an arrow sa.
Crest:  A horse's head ar.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

I will now give a history of the name. It is not Norman, but Burgundian French, and our ancestors, without doubt, had their origin in that part of Switzerland once Burgundian, but now known as the Canton de Vaud, on the northern shore of the Lake Geneva. The origin of the name has to do with the chief weapon of defence, fleche, an arrow-a word from the Latin verb flectire, to bend and has to do with the bow. The French verb is Flechir. Now the man who bent the bow was a de la Flechiere, the bender of the bow-in other words, the archer.

There is no substantive in the French language called Flechier. Fletcher is an English common name, and as Tanner, author of the best English and French dictionaries, gives the English word Fletcher, he has to translate the word into French by a circumlocution-saying that the English word Fletcher is a fabriquant de fleches. Brady in his 'Dissertation on Names' perhaps has hit upon the origin of the English word by giving it as fledger, the man who fledges or feathers an arrow. Our name is distinctly French, and the original word is de la Flechere which M. Kittre in the great French dictionary (equal in size to six of our largest unabridged Websters), says it has as its synonym saggitaire, archer." Rev. J.C. Fletcher's address in Genealogical and Historical Sketches of the Fletcher Family; Descendants of Robert Fletcher, of Concord, Mass., 1630; Delivered at Their Second Reunion at Lowell, Mass., August 21 and 22, 1878, Together with the Proceedings and a Complete List of Members of the Family Attending the Reunion, (1878).

"'The Fletchers are supposed to be of Norman Descent, and to have come over with William the Conqueror, as there was a family of their name in the southern part of Normandy,' so says Betham in his 'Baronetage of England.' The family name of Fletcher has always been an honorable one in England; and there are three Fletchers holding Baronetcies, and many others have high offices in the army and navy, and also in civil life." Bates, Theodore C., Bates and Fletcher Genealogical Register, (1892) p. 47.

"One of the most magnificent of the many lovely Highland glens is undoubtedly Glenorchy, whence the Fletcher Clan is said to have originated. The Fletchers claim descent from Kenneth MacAlpin, the first king of the united Picts and Scots, and ancestor of our present Royal family. The Fletchers were the first to 'raise smoke and boil water' on the Braes of Glenorchy (Is e Clannan-Leisdeir a thog a cheud smuid thug goil air uisge an Urcha). The patronymic of the Clan was Mac-an-leistear, and prior to 1700 was written in documents as 'MacInleister'. When surnames came to be used, in about 1745, the name was anglicised as Fletcher - the equivalent of the Gaelic 'Leisdear', man of the arrow. The first person to use the English 'Fletcher' seems to have been Archibald the VIIIth Chief. Their badge is the pine-tree, and their tartan is an arrangement of blue, black and green, with diagonal lines of red. Their crest is two arms drawing a bow, as depicted on the cover." Mason, Margaret F. P., An Ancient Scottish Clan, The Fletchers of Glenorchy, (1973).

Name Variations:  Fletcher, Flechere, MacInleister, Flecher, Flechier, Flecher.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
English Surnames; C.M. Matthews - 1966.
A Dictionary of English Surnames; P.H. Reaney - 1958.

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