Fletcher Surname Genealogy

The game of bowls was banned by Edward III and later by Henry VIII
because it “distracted bowyers, fletchers, stringers, and arrowhead
makers from their trades and diverted the nation’s bowmen from archery
Bowyers and fletchers were considered skilled jobs and they were
generally paid at the same rate as archers. They would accompany
the army on the march. Fletchers would have to maintain arrows
and keep them usable and ready for battle at all times. And they
had their own guild in London, the Worshipful Company of Fletchers.
All the medieval trades relating to archery ended up becoming
surnames (Bowyer, Fletcher, Stringer, and Arrowsmith), none more so
than Fletcher. The usually accepted origin of Fletcher is from
the old French word fleche,
meaning “arrow,” introduced into England at the time of the Norman
Conquest. However, Fletcher might have had other origins as well,
either from the old German name Fulcher
or from the occupational “flesher,” someone who cleaned animal skins in
order to prepare the leather.The words de la flechiere
mean “archer” in French Swiss and this name could become Fletcher in
English (as with the early Methodist preacher from Switzerland, John

Resources on

Fletcher Ancestry

Wales. It was the Welsh
longbow archer who was instrumental in the English victories of Crecy
and Agincourt and hence many fletchers at that time came from south
Wales. There were references to Fletcher as a surname in Cardiff
during the 16th century when surnames were beginning to take root in
Wales. One Fletcher family traces its history back to the late
18th century in Cardiff. Philip Fletcher was baptized at St.
Fagans in 1795 and his descendants have begun to hold annual reunions.

The first record of a notable Fletcher family in England was in Bishop
Stortford, Hertfordshire where the clergyman
Richard Fletcher lost his job in
1554 because he had married. A later Richard was chaplain to
Queen Elizabeth. One of his sons was the Jacobean playwright John
Fletcher and two of his nephews, the poets Giles and Phineas Fletcher.

However, Fletcher has been much more a northern English name.

Cheshire A
Fletcher family has been prominent in Cheshire since the 16th century
and probably from an earlier date. John Fletcher purchased the Chester Chronicle in 1783 and it
stayed with his family until the 1960’s. Another John Fletcher
was chief engineer for the Chester canal in the early

Fletchers in Cumbria have been traced to
Fletcher of Cockermouth in the early 16th century. These
Fletchers, well-to-do
merchants of their time, lived at Cockermouth Hall. Fletcher
, who led the mutiny on the Bounty, grew up in this area.

Larger numbers of Fletchers were and are to be found in the county of
Lancashire, in particular in the Liverpool area. A Fletcher
family lived in the West Derby district of Liverpool from the 1500’s
and Fletchers were active in the slave trade out of
Liverpool from the
early 1700’s. Later Fletcher enterprises in Liverpool showed some
successes and some failures:

  • Jacob Fletcher, a descendant of
    the Cockermouth Fletchers, arrived in Liverpool in 1760 and made a lot
    of money as a free-booting privateer. His son built Allerton
    House in south Liverpool in 1815 on the proceeds and this house stayed
    with the family until 1944.
  • Thomas Fletcher, born in 1767,
    came from a family of hatters in Liverpool. He was apprenticed to
    a Jamaica merchant and then joined a bank where he later became a
    prinicipal. Unfortunately, he and the bank were declared bankrupt
    in 1834.
  • James Fletcher was a prosperous
    Liverpool merchant in the second half of the 19th century. He had
    arrived from Scotland as James Jack and legally changed his name to
    Fletcher in 1855.

Elsewhere in Lancashire, the Fletcher name appeared in Burnley records
from the early 1600’s and in Rochdale and Bury records from the
early-to-mid 1700’s. There were Fletchers in coal mining
in Bolton

(where their presence went back to the 16th century) and in Denton in
south Lancashire (where they had been landowners).

Scotland. Fletcher was
anglicized form of the old Scottish clan Mac-an-Leister
who came from Glenorchy in Argyllshire. The clan held this land
with the MacGregors until the 17th century when it was taken from them
by the Campbells. After that time a number of subsidiary Fletcher
lines emerged in different places nearby:

A different line, originating probably from Yorkshire in England, were
the Fletchers of Saltoun in East Lothian. They produced Andrew
Fletcher, the noted Scottish patriot:

“Andrew Fletcher lived a life full of
incident. Perhaps that is putting it too mildly for a man who
fought in Monmouth’s Rebellion, was attainted for treason and sentenced
in absentia to be executed,
was imprisoned in Spain but escaped in mysterious circumstances, fought
his way around most of Europe, was pardoned by William of Orange and
restored to his Scottish estates and to his seat in the Scottish
parliament. Today Fletcher is remembered for his unflagging
opposition to the Treaty of Union in 1707.”

The history of the Fletcher clan in Scotland and its various branches
is to be found in Margaret Mason’s 1973 book, An Ancient Scottish Clan: The Fletchers of

There still remains a number of Fletchers in Argyllshire. But the
19th century saw a drift south to Glasgow and significant emigration.

America. Moses Fletcher
was onboard the Mayflower.
However, he died during the first winter and left no family in
America. Later came Benjamin Fletcher. But he didn’t
stay. A freewheeling soldier
of fortune, he had somehow been appointed Governor of New York in
1692. During his tenure he was in cahoots with the pirates of his
time, Tew and Captain Kidd, until he was eventually ousted in

Robert Fletcher
did leave a family. He had come to Concord, Massachusetts in 1635
and his
descendants have spread
across New England and elsewhere. A booklet, Historical Sketches of the Fletcher Family
by Edward H. Fletcher, was published in 1878 at the time of
their second family reunion (at which time there were an estimated
8,000 descendants recorded).

One line of this Fletcher family went through Calvin
Fletcher who brought his family to Indiana in 1821 and was one of its
pioneer settlers. His brother
Stoughton started the Fletcher Bank there, which grew into an national
bank by
1900. However, the next generation of Fletchers dissipated

Calvin’s brother was Elijah Fletcher, who bought the Sweet Briar
plantation in Virginia in the early 1830’s. Prior to emancipation this
plantation had between 80 and 100 slaves, including James and Lavinia
Fletcher who were married there in 1855. The descendants of their
son Patrick hold a reunion at the slave cemetery every year where they
remember the enslaved relatives buried long ago.

Canada. Early Fletchers
in Canada were probably Loyalists or Loyalist sympathizers, such as
John and Elizabeth Fletcher from New Hampshire who crossed the border
into Ontario sometime in the 1790’s. John and Alexander Fletcher
– originally from Scotland – crossed over a little later and were to be
found in Elizabethtown, Ontario in 1801.

Subsequent Fletchers came from both England and Scotland:

  • three brothers from England – William, John, and Dickson – arrived in
    Toronto around 1820 and then set out for Tecumseh township where they
    were among the first settlers. Fletcher House, built there in
    1849, still stands.
  • Francis Fletcher came with his parents to
    Nassagaweya, Ontario in 1825 (he later was an Oregon pioneer).
  • and various Fletchers from Scotland settled in Dunvegan,

South Africa. Patrick
Fletcher was one of the many Jura Fletchers who emigrated from Scotland
in the 19th century. He arrived in Cape colony in the 1850’s and
later became a surveyor and mining commissioner in Naquamaland.
Mount Fletcher on the Eastern Cape was named after him. Later
Fletchers were to be found in Rhodesia as it was then
called, as
as in South Africa.

New Zealand. James
Fletcher came to Dunedin from Scotland in 1908 and started up a
building business with his brother William. This business grew to
be Fletcher Construction, one of New Zealand’s largest companies.

Fletcher Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Fletcher Names

John Fletcher was the noted Jacobean
playwright who followed Shakespeare as playwright for the King’s Men.
Andrew Fletcher was the
Scottish patriot who fought the Treaty of Union with England in 1707.
John William Fletcher was a
contemporary of Wesley and one of Methodism’s first great theologians.
John Gould Fletcher was a
Pulitzer prize winning poet and author from Little Rock, Arkansas.
Harvey Fletcher was the
American physicist credited with the invention of the hearing aid.
Sir James Fletcher was the
founder of Fletcher Construction, one of New Zealand’s largest firms.

Select Fletchers

  • 60,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 31,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas).
  • 30,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).



Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply