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This is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic personal name Fionnlagh, composed of the elements "fionn" meaning "fair", plus "lagh", a hero. The latter element is written as "laoch" in modern Gaelic. The Old Scottish Chronicles of the Kings of Dalrida record the name as Fionnlaoich and Finnleoch, circa 1080. The name of MacBeth's father was spelt Findleach in "The Book of Leinster" (1070). The name is generally translated as "Fair Head" but the explanation for Fionnlagh or Fionnlugh also appears as "Faire one of (the Celtic God) Lug". One, Fynlayus, clericus, witnessed a charter in 1246 "Register of Paisley Monastery". The surname adopted from this source first appears in the early 16th Century, (see below). In the "modern" idiom, the name is spelt Fin(d)lay or Fin(d)ley. On August 18th 1671, Lillias Findley was christened in Edinburgh. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Andrew Fyndelai, chaplain of Brechin, which was dated 1526 "Episcopal Register of Brechin", Scotland, during the reign of King James V of Scotland 1513 - 1543. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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