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Surname Fessenden - Meaning and Origin

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Fessenden: What does the surname Fessenden mean?

The last name Fessenden is derived from an Old English surname. The name is derived from the Old English words “fæs” meaning “fern” and “denu” which means “valley”. Together, they form the surname Fessenden, which essentially means “valley of ferns”.

The name is most likely a locational name and suggests that at one point, the family may have lived in a place that was full of ferns, such as a wooded area. The name dates back to at least the 12th century in England and is thought to have arrived in the United States with early settlers.

In the United States, the surname is fairly common in the New England Region. There are a few distinct families who have adopted this surname, including some prominent figures. Benjamin Fessenden was a notable figure during the Revolutionary War. He served as treasurer of the United States and was a delegate to the Continental Congress. Other prominent people include the inventor Charles Fessenden and historian and theologian Warren Fessenden.

Today, the surname Fessenden is known widely throughout the world and is often associated with people of American descent. It remains a distinctive surname that offers a glimpse into the unique history and heritage of its original bearers.

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Fessenden: Where does the name Fessenden come from?

The last name Fessenden is very common in the United States today, with more than 11,500 Americans sharing that name as of 2020. Fessenden is a very old surname, and there are records showing it being used in England as early as the thirteenth century. In the United States, Fessenden is concentrated mostly in the northeast, with the highest concentrations being in the states of Maine and Massachusetts. There are also high numbers of Fessendens in the neighboring states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Canada also has a significant number of Fessendens, mainly in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, as well as scattered throughout the rest of the nation.

Interestingly, some Fessendens in the US are descended from a single ancestor, inventor Reginald Fessenden, born in 1866 in Ontario. Reginald made significant contributions to the science of radio transmission, and several locations in the US, Canada, and elsewhere bear his name in tribute. His legacy remains to this day, and it is evident in the many locations around the world that share his last name.

Variations of the surname Fessenden

The surname Fessenden is of English origin, and is derived from the Old French phrase “faece de sente” which translates to "sentinel or watchman". Variants, spellings and other surnames derived from the same root are quite common, and may be spelled as Fesenden, Fessenten, Fesendean, Fessentin, Fesendine, Fessendale, Fesendale, Fesenell, Fessendean and Fesenten. It may also be spelled and pronounced differently depending on whether it is Irish or American in origin, such as Fezin, Fissenden, Fizin and Fizan.

The earliest records of the surname can be traced back to the city of Oxford, England, in 1279 AD. Over the centuries, the surname has also spread to the US, Canada, and other countries. In Ireland, the variations Fezin and Fiszenden predominate. In Canada, the Irish spelling is more common, and variants such as Fiszenthin, Feszendah and Fiszanden are also found.

In the US, Fessenden is by far the most common spelling, although Feszenden, Fizin and Fizan are all found. The surname is also found in other Irish and English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and the Caribbean.

Apart from the Fessenden surname, some related names of a different origin are Fessenten and Fiszentin, which come from the Dutch words “fesse” (sentence) and “sehenten” (to sentence). Another variant is Fessent, derived from the old French word “fessant” (declaring).

Famous people with the name Fessenden

  • Reginald Fessenden: first person to broadcast audio over radio waves in 1906 during a Christmas eve service.
  • Harold Fessenden: leading advocate of hydropower in the early twentieth century and developed the trigeneration process for specific uses.
  • Frederic Fessenden: American novelist, poet and editor; published works including The Golden Hope, From the Great Deep and Poems from the Island.
  • Wilfred Fessenden: material scientist and physicist; best known for developing high-voltage DC transmission systems and power conversion inventions.
  • Laura Fessenden: British architect, educator, and conservationist; designed Grade I and II listed buildings that have remained to this day.
  • Reuben Fessenden: Congregationalist minister, editor, historian, and author; wrote extensive works on religious history and wrote biographies of various church members.
  • Owen Fessenden: American Rear Admiral, held in command of the United States Pacific Fleet in World War II.
  • Thomas Fessenden: American sculptor, best known for creating many public monuments in New England.
  • Sewall Fessenden: American governor and diplomatic secretary; best known for serving as caretaker Governor of Oregon from May 4, 1910 until his death in 1915.
  • Othniel Charles Fessenden: American botanist and plant physiologist; conducted research on the effect of light and temperature on plant growth.

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