Fiennes Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Fiennes Meaning
Fiennes, pronounced as fiynz, is a surname of Norman origin.  Fiennes was a commune in what is today the
Pas-de-Calais department.

Fiennes Resources on

Fiennes Ancestry

EnglandThe first of the Fiennes would appear to have
been Ingelram de Fiennes, who hailed from Fiennes in Normandy, married well (Sybil
de Boulogne, the heiress to the Counts of Boulogne), but was killed at the Battle of Acre in Palestine in 1190.  It
was a later de Fiennes, Sir John de Fiennes, who also married well and established himself in the early 1300’s at
Castle in Sussex.

James Fiennes was killed by a Kentish mob in 1450.
But a third providential marriage brought
together a few years later his son William Fiennes and Margaret Wykeham of
Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire.  Broughton
Castle was to be the family home of the Wykeham-Fiennes and later of the Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (to give the family its full spelling).

Thomas Fiennes fared badly at the time of
Henry VIII, being stripped of his lands and titles and hanged as a common criminal in 1541.  But the family did
later return into favor.  William
Fiennes, nicknamed Old Subtlety, wavered between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians at the time of the Civil War.
He eventually supported Parliament.
However, the execution of King Charles proved a step too far
and, almost 70, he retreated into exile.  Come the
Restoration eleven years later, he was brought back at the age of 80 as a Privy Councillor.

The family history was
colorfully described in Ranulph Fiennes’ 2010 book Mad
Dogs and Englishmen

The 19th century Frederick Fiennes, 16th Baron Saye and Sele, had two notable lines of descendants:

  • via grandson Sir Eustace Fiennes who was a
    distinguished soldier, politician and colonial administrator, and
    made a baronet.  His grandson Sir Ranulph
    Fiennes, the 3rd Baronet, is the famous explorer.
  • via great grandson Sir Maurice
    Fiennes who was a noted industrialist, Chairman of the Davy-Ashmore steelworks in
    Sheffield.  His son Mark was a
    photographer and illustrator, his grandsons Ralph (pronounced Rafe) and Joseph famous film actors.

Fiennes Names

  • Celia Fiennes was a pioneer English woman traveller of the late 17th century.  Her travel memoirs,
    written in 1702, were eventually published in 1888. 
  • Sir Ranulph Fiennes is a well-known British adventurer and holder of several endurance records
    (including the oldest to climb Mount Everest). 
  • Ralph Fiennes is a
    well-known English film actor.

Select Fiennes Numbers Today

  • 500 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)


Select Fiennes and Like Surnames.

These are surnames which have a small number of people bearing that name but are included here – for the curiosity of the name, its history, or because of some famous person who bears that name.




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