For several years, my father Terence Lanfear and I (Timothy Lanfear) have been researching the genealogy of the Lanfear family in Great Britain. The information we have gathered so far can be viewed on these pages. We would be pleased to hear from anyone with any further Lanfear family history.
The study is registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies
Use the Name search box above to find a person, then select a name to see details. Or, use the Sources button to browse source documents.
The Lanfear Name
Variations on the Name
As anyone in the family will tell you, people rarely believe that we know how to spell our own name and will usually write down something else when we clearly say L-A-N-F-E-A-R. It was ever thus. Here is a list of variants on our name found so far in documents (censuses, parish registers etc.) in approximate order of frequency of occurrence, including some names which may not be related to the family.
Lanfear, Lanfier, Lanfire, Lanfere, Lamphire, Lanphier, Lamphier, Lanfiere, Langfield, Lamphere, Langfear, Lanfyre, Lanfeere, Langfere, Lanfer, Lanfeer, Lampher, Lanfeare, Landfield, Landfear, Lanfeir, Lamfear, Lanfair, Lampheir, Lamfier, Langfer, Lamphir, Lanfilde, Lanfeire, Lanifier, Landfer, Lamphear, Lampheare, Lamfire, Lamfer, Lamfeere, Langfire, Langfell, Landfere, Lanphere, Lanpher, Lanpheare, Langfielde, Lanfyer, Lanfield, Lanfeld, Lanfar, Landfire, Landfier, Landfar, Landfair, Lampyer, Lampier, Lamphyre, Lampfield, Lamper, Lamfeir, Lamfeare, Lansear, Lankfill, Langford, Langfild, Langfeld, Langfaire, Lanfior, Lanfild, Lanfiar, Lanfeur, Lanfaw, Lanfare, Lanefer.
Despite this significant variation in the form of the name in the past, the spelling has become pretty uniform is the last century or so with most people adopting Lanfear in the UK and forms with PH like Lanphear being more common in the USA.
Meaning of the Name
These etymologies have been extracted from books on surnames but I am sceptical about the suggested Celtic origins for the family name. Whilst it is true that llan fair is Welsh, and Llanfair appears in many place names in Wales, the name is not found it Wales until the 19th Century when some families from the West Country migrated there. The highest concentration of the Lanfear name is found in North Wiltshire, well away from any Celtic influence, where it appears in records back to the 16th Century.
An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names with an Essay on their Derivation and Import, William Arthur, 1857.
- Lann-feur, Gaelic, grass-land; Lann-fear, a pike-man. Lann, an inclosure; a house; a church; land; a sword. Feur, grass; fear, a man.
Patronymica Britannica - A Dictionary of the Family Names of the United Kingdom, Mark Antony Lower, 1860.
- see Lanphear.
- Gaelic lann-fear, a pike man.
Lower cites Arthur as the source of this etymology.
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, Henry Brougham Guppy, 1890.
Lanfear is a name that was represented by De Lanfar, or De Lanfare,
in London in the reign of Edward I (Hundred Rolls).
Guppy classified the name as being peculiar to the county of Berkshire (that is confined mostly to that county) and estimated its frequency of occurrence to be 9 per 10,000 of the population.
British Family Names — Their Origin and Meaning, Rev. Henry Barber, 1903.
- From Llanfair; a loc. n., N. Wales. Or A.S. Landfrith; a p.n. (land peace).
Surnames of the United Kingdom, A Concise Etymological Dictionary, Henry Harrison, 1918.
- (Celtic) Dweller at the Great Enclosure or Church [Cornish lan (= Welsh llan),
an enclosure, church + fear, a mutated
form of mear, mér, great].
(English) for Langfear q.v.
- (English) the Domesday Langfere, Lancfer [Lanc- is for the Old English hlanc, lank and fer(e) apparently represents the Old English féra, companion, retainer].
New Dictionary of American Family Names, Elsden C Smith, 1973.
- Landfair, Lanfair, Lanfar
- (Welsh, English) One who came from Llanfair (St Mary’s church); dweller near the great church; the tall companion.
- Lanphear, Lanpher, Lanphier
- (Welsh) Dweller near the large church.
Another suggested derivation for the name, more consonant with the theory of a Huguenot origin for the family, is from the French l’âme fière, meaning proud soul. The name Lanfer exists in Germany. The German name is derived from Landwehr, which is the name of the local militia in the Middle Ages. If you think that Lanfear means Daughter of the Night then you may be looking for a Wheel of Time site.
The Office of National Statistics has a database of over one million names occurring in England, Wales and the Isle of Man in September 2002. The name Lanfear is borne by 489 individuals in the database in position 11561 in order of frequency of occurrence.
The database was established in 1998. Births have been added but deaths have not been removed. The counts may also contain duplicate entries, mis-spellings and people like me who no longer live in Great Britain. Experience suggests that a better estimate of the number of Lanfears in England and Wales is to multiply the above figure by 0.93, giving around 450.
The number of Lanfears that have lived since the start of Parish Registers in the 16th Century is estimated by multiplying the database count by 3.5, giving around 1700. My own genealogical database is approaching this size so I do not expect to find any further large swathes of Lanfears.
The Lanfear Coat of Arms
According to Burke’s General Armoury, page 584, a Coat of Arms was granted by Betham, Ulster, to Thomas Lanphier, Esq., of Parkstown County, Tipperary, Lieutenant Colonel, 86th Regiment, and to the descendants of his grandfather.
The Blazon of Arms is a paly of six gules and argent, on a chief azure, a lion passant of the second. The crest is a demi lion rampant gules. The motto is Virtute et Fidelitate (By Bravery and Fidelity).
The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Sir Bernard Burke, C.B., LL.D., Ulster King of Arms.