So, being an average guy who has no experience with historical or genealogical research, I am going to lay out the assumptions that I am working with while I trace what I can of the Follansbee Clan.
Location, Location, Location:
The early Follansbees are located in/around Durham County in close proximity to the old village of Follonsby. We can be sure of an early 1600 date, if you want to accept the unproven claim of Thomas parents then go ahead and tie us into the late 1500’s.
The earliest (so far) spelling of Follansbee is Follansby, Follansbye, and a few varients but usually ending in By or Bye, matching the Scandinavian flavor of the area as well as the village. My working theory is that Follansbee is a place-name from Follonsby Village.
While it no longer exists, it is well documented in early transcripts and today there are roads still named after this village in the same general area. The name and town are to similar to be coincidental, which of course is still an assumption.
Pedigrees a plenty:
There are plenty of historical families in the Durham area, one being Hilton/Hylton as well as others. There is a clear lack of anything resembling Follansbee (Folletebi) before the 1600’s. This leads me to think that maybe our name came from someone who lived and worked in the town, a commoner, whose last name came from the village he lived in. I have compiled a list of Barons and Lords who owned the land that encompassed Follonsby, I have yet to find who the actual renters/mortgagers were. The land owners do not seem to be a direct tie.
Original Owner not an Ancestor:
Thorald de London in the late 1200’s willed the village to his son Nicholas, who is the only person that I have found to be called anything close to Follansbee. Nicolas de Folletebi. There does not seem to be a direct family name tie in here (at least yet) seeing that Nicolas sold off the Village which retained its name until it was sold off in three parcels in the 1800’s
There is absolutely nothing that I can find that dates a Follansbee before 1637. I am sure maybe out there somewhere someone has something, but until it comes to light we are quite stuck.
Ok, so what are the holes in my assumptions?
1.) We do not have a tie in for Follonsby that directly shows that we are actually named for the location.
2.) Thomas Sr’s birth is recorded in London. This is probably not a real issue. I used to have a Christening record for him that was recorded at the Durham Cathedral.
3.) That our stock was a Commoner. I did read on a forum somewhere from a Gal in England that she looked up Follansbee and there is some record in London and this Follansbee was recorded as an Esquire (Below Knight, above Gentleman). Maybe it was just this Chap, maybe the family line was a little higher up the scale, who knows?
Strengths of my theory:
I do A LOT of reading, I mean a lot. I am not saying there is nothing out there, but so far nothing has come up to lead me down a different rabbit trail. So far, the village completely predates the last name. There is a good 300 year gap between the first mention of Follonsby/Folletebi and Thomas Follansbee. So far this is good, it still leads me to think Follansbee is a place-name or became a last name because an ancestor lived in Follonsby. The name is uncommon. It is not like tying Smith to Smithville or Brown to Brownstown. Those could be a dime a dozen. There is only one Follonsby and it is to close to Follansbee to not investigate it in the minutest detail.
Well that’s it, pretty boring I know. These assumptions are what keep me awake at night, pondering the family origins.