The Fancher Family Origins

This document provides abundant evidence to illustrate the Colonial Fanchers found in Stamford, Stratford, and Branford, Connecticut were in all probability descendants of Long Island, New York Fanshaws. Recent intensive research has brought forth a strong new candidate for the father of the original Colonial Fanchers. Specifically shown in this work:

1.                    William Fancy/Fanshaw, and family, of Brookhaven Town, Long Island,
             New York are almost certainly the ancestors of all of the Colonial Fanchers,
             and, therefore, most modern day Fanchers in the United States. 

2.                    There is no document, evidence, or anything to show a relationship
             between David Faucher and Marthe (Des Fontaines) Faucher and the
             Colonial Fanchers.

3.                    The origin of the Fancher surname in America is the English
             Fanshawe/Fanshaw surname. The Fancy/Fanshaw family of Brook-
             haven, Long Island, New York is most likely from this family in


The information in this document has been collected and organized over the years by Mrs. Alison Courtot Wallner, Rochester Hills, Michigan and Paul B. Fancher, Atlanta, Georgia and is presented to the family members for their information and enjoyment. As the authors are both descendants of Richard Fancher, the appearance of Richard “Fansey” on Long Island, is of particular interest. The information presented here is a concise and accurate explanation to help people to understand how, when, and where our Colonial ancestors lived. 

What Is Contained In This Document 

This document shows that the Fancher Family in America descends from the Fancy/Fanshaw Family of Long Island, New York. It presents William Fancy/Fanshaw, Jr., of Setauket, Brookhaven Town, Long Island, Suffolk County, New York as the father of the Colonial Fanchers who were found in Stamford, and Stratford, Fairfield County around 1730, and Branford, New Haven County, Connecticut around 1720. 

We believe the evidence presented here is more than sufficient to meet the Genealogical Proof Standard, which is the criterion for judging the persuasiveness of evidence, even in circumstances where records have not survived or were never created. (This type of situation is not uncommon when researching families living more than three centuries ago. With the passage of time, papers and records deteriorate, are lost, or destroyed. The Brookhaven area churches on Long Island, that may have contained the vital records of this family, were destroyed during the British occupation of Long Island during the Revolutionary War. William Fancy/Fanshaw, Sr.’s 1677 inventory lists a family bible, but the antiquity of that record makes it very unlikely it has survived. William Fancy/Fanshaw, Jr. left no Last Will and Testament, Bible, or any known record, that names his children.)  

This document also shows that the spelling of the surnames of Richard Fancher, John Fancher, and David Fancher was predominately “Fanshaw” in the early Connecticut records. It establishes the connection between the Fanshaw, Fancher, and Fancy spellings of our family surname, and presents convincing new evidence that the origin of the Fancher family name in America was the English Fanshawe surname. Previous researchers either did not inspect the original records or disregarded the evidence of the majority of “Fanshaw” recordings for our Fancher ancestors, and did not pursue the Fanshaw family name. Those researchers have provided us with a wealth of information, and in their defense, they did not have as many published records, or the modern Internet to use, in their research. 

One of the focuses of our research was an examination of the original records. Modern publishers, or transcribers, in some cases have changed the spelling, or indexed records under “Fansher”, or “Fancher”, giving a false impression of how the surname actually appeared in the original records. People in England, familiar with the Fanshawe name, pronounce it as “FAN-shur”, which very properly was phonetically translated as Fansher and Fancher in colonial spellings. (The accepted spelling in England is “Fanshawe”; in the Colonial records, the final “e” was historically dropped from the spelling.) 

In early Colonial America, the Fanshaw name is found in only three areas other than Connecticut: “Old Town” (now Setauket), Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York; Norfolk, Virginia – Currituck County, North Carolina; and Newport, Rhode Island. There is no known connection between the Norfolk Fanshaws (who may have been descendents of Richard Fanshaw who arrived in Virginia in 1635) and William Fancy/Fanshaw (who was found in the New Haven Colony in 1643, and later became an original proprietor of Setauket). The Newport, Rhode Island reference to Fanshaw is a single 1704 affidavit about a commercial transaction, and there is no other indication that anyone of that name lived there.   

The Fanshaw surname links the Connecticut and Long Island families together. William Fancy is first seen in records of the New Haven Colony in 1643, and next in Southold, Long Island about 1652, before appearing in Old Town (Setauket, Brookhaven) about 1660.  William Fancy and his family members are mentioned many times from 1660 to the 1690’s in the Old Town records published as the Brookhaven Town Records.  Fancy is a variant spelling of the Fanshaw name that is also found many times in these records.  After the early 1690’s, “Fanshaw” was used almost exclusively in the Old Town and Suffolk County records.  

One of the early Fancher traditions is that the original family members came from Long Island to Connecticut.  In times when populations were confined to the Atlantic Seaboard and there were only very elementary transportation means, wooden ships and wagons, it stands to reason that Fanshaws of Long Island and Fanshaws of Connecticut, located directly across the Long Island Sound from each other, were of the same family branch.  This connection was never made by any genealogists until 1999 when Mrs. Alison Wallner, Rochester Hills, Michigan found the Fancy/Fanshaw family of Long Island while searching the modern day Internet.  At least one earlier family genealogist had seen Brookhaven Town Records published in 1882, but had not pursued or researched this family for some reason.

For years, some people have mistakenly believed that the Colonial Fanchers were children of David Faucher and Marthe Des Fontaines of the French Church on Threadneedle Street, London, England.  This has come about because William Hoyt Fancher merely opined in his 1947 book that John Fancher might have been the Jean Faucher born to David and Marthe. There is no evidence or link to connect Jean Faucher to Colonial America or the Fancher family. This mistaken relationship has been spread widely and fostered by unsubstantiated information submitted to the LDS (Mormon) Church database. 

The following pages contain detailed information about the Long Island, New York Fancy/Fanshaws, Connecticut Fanshaw/Fanchers, and London Fauchers.    

           Early Colonial America Fanshaw/Fanchers 

The following seven people are believed to be the earliest people in the Colonies to have been known by the family name “Fancher”:

                    Catherine Fancher, married August 14, 1717 in Branford, New Haven Co.,
                    Connecticut to Ebenezer Elwell, and died about 1743/4, eight children,
                    born 1721-1736.  (Estimated birth date 1687-1697.) 

                    William Fancher, married November 20, 1723 in Branford, New Haven Co.,    
              Connecticut to Thankful Thompson, and died August 20, 1759, fourteen
              children, born 1724-1751.  (Estimated birth date 1693-1703.)

                    Hannah Fansher/Fancher, married June 6, 1728 in Stamford, Fairfield Co.,
              Connecticut to Joseph Garnsey, six children, born 1729-1739.  (Estimated
              birth date 1698-1708.)

                    David Fanshaw/Fancy/Fancher, living in Stratford, Fairfield Co.,

                    Connecticut by December 1741, five children. Wife unknown. (Estimated
              birth date 1698-1708.)  As late as 1758, his son was also recorded with
              the surname of Fancy.


                    Richard Fanshaw/Fansher/Fancher, living in Stamford, Fairfield Co.,
              Connecticut by 1728, seven children, born 1731-1744. Wife Martha,
              surname unknown. (Estimated birth date 1700-1710.)  The predominant
              recording of his surname was Fanshaw until about 1741/2 when he
              removed to Morris County, NJ.

                    John Fanshaw/Fansher/Fancher, living in Stamford, Fairfield Co.,
              Connecticut by 1735, married November 1736 in Stamford to Eunice Bouton,

               ten children, born 1737-1757. (Estimated birth date 1712-1716.) The
              predominant recording of his surname was Fanshaw until about 1752.

                    Joseph Fancher of Cape May County, New Jersey, who was married before
              March 28, 1747 to a granddaughter of Richard Downs, was a contemporary
              of the six above, who were found in Connecticut.  (Estimated birth date

With the exception of Joseph, the above people are assumed to be brothers and sisters as recorded by William Hoyt Fancher in The Fancher Family. William Hoyt Fancher and other early researchers were not aware of Joseph Fancher’s existence. Recently, another investigation of the Cape May Co., New Jersey records still did not reveal enough information about him to determine his relationship to the others. It would appear that he was the youngest sibling.   

Around 1900, researchers W. S. Potter and J. R. Clark researched John Fanshaw/Fancher and Hannah (Fancher) Garnsey, but were unaware of the existence of the other original Fanshaw/Fancher Families.  They had some unconnected families, but thought they were somehow descendents of the original John Fanshaw/Fancher.  

William Hoyt Fancher began his research about 1925 and found William Fancher of Branford, Catherine (Fancher) Elwell of Branford, David Fanshaw/Fancy/Fancher of Stratford, and Richard Fanshaw/Fancher of Stamford, (and Morris County, New Jersey) by 1935. 

Paul B. Fancher found Joseph Fancher, Cape May County, New Jersey about 1982 and Mrs. Alison Courtot Wallner found William Fancy, Setauket, Long Island, Suffolk County, New York in 1999.

                                                 William Fancy of Setauket, Long Island, New York

In Colonial America on Long Island New York, at a place called Setauket, in Brookhaven Town in Suffolk County, a settlement of several families was established around 1660 that included the family of William Fancy and his second wife, Katherine. His first wife was called “Goodie” or “Goodwife” in New Haven, Connecticut records 1643 to 1646, and apparently died before he arrived at Setauket. His children were Samuel, Joseph, Hannah, William, Jr., and Rachel.   

Listed below is the evidence that points to William Fancy, Jr., the son of William Fancy, as the father of the Colonial Fanshaw/Fanchers, and other information that should be considered in arriving at this conclusion.  

1.       Earliest research and family information states the Fanchers settled permanently on Long
Island before going to Connecticut. Judge Enoch Fancher researched before 1866 and stated “Two brothers came to America and settled somewhere on Long Island to begin their life’s work.” W. S. Potter, J. R. Clark, and W. H. Fancher thought the Fanchers they were researching came from Lloyds Neck, Long Island. Setauket and Lloyds Neck are only about 25 miles apart.


2.     Early research and information also states John Fancher, Richard Fancher, and Hannah (Fancher) Garnsey were at Stamford, Connecticut “about 1730”. Richard “Fanshaw” and Hannah “Fansher” appear in Stamford records in 1728 and John “Fanshaw” in 1734/1735.                                                                                                                                         3

3.     William Fancher, John Fancher, Richard Fancher, David Fancher and Hannah (Fancher) Garnsey all named a son William. No other male given name appears in these families with such a high degree of frequency. Hannah (Fancher) Garnsey named her first son Joseph, after her husband and his father, and her second son William. Richard and John named their first sons after themselves and their second sons were named William. When Richard’s first son William died, he named another son William, which indicated the importance of that given name. The naming patterns of the Fanchers strongly indicate their father’s name was William.


4.  William Fancy, William Fancy, Jr., and Richard Fancy used the same cattle mark on Long Island, indicating their relationship. William, Sr. registered the mark and William, Jr., gave it up in 1720. Richard registered the same mark in Islip Town in 1726. He probably had received livestock from William, Jr. and let them graze in Islip Town. Father, son, and grandson would have used the same mark.

5.   William Fancy, Jr. and Richard Fancy appeared in identical court cases in Suffolk County, New York, March 13, 1727, i.e., Sundry Indians versus William Fancy and Sundry Indians versus Richard Fancy. To have been in the same court, the same day, involved in the same type case would indicate that William, Jr. and Richard had some type of relationship.


6.   The similarity of names of the eldest Colonial Fanchers to those of the William Fancy Family. William Fancy, Jr. ‘s father was William, his mother was Catherine, his sister was Hannah, and his brother-in-law was David.

     7.       Extensive research has recently provided especially persuasive evidence that Fancy and Fancher
           are both spelling variants of the Fanshaw surname. (See FANSHAWE -The Origin of the Fancher
           Surname in America
, page 26.) Briefly, the surname of Fancy family members was spelled Fanshaw
           in some instances on Long Island. David Fancher is also recorded as Fancy and Fanshaw in the
           original Stratford, Connecticut records and the Fancy spellings also appears in later generations for
           known Fanchers. An examination of the original Stamford, Connecticut records has revealed that both
           John and Richard Fancher’s surname was recorded primarily as Fanshaw until after 1740. Strong
           corroborating evidence is also provided in the records of the Fanshaw family of Norfolk County, Virginia
           and Currituck County, North Carolina (no known relationship to the Fanchers at this time). Beginning in
           1715, the Fansher and Fancher spelling variants turn up frequently in these southern Fanshaw family
           records for more than 100 years.

                  8.      William Fancy, Jr. fits the correct time frame for the father of the Colonial Fanchers. William Fancy, Jr.
                       may have been born 1658-1662. His father’s Will does not specifically state he was a minor but does
                       direct that he is to receive his inheritance upon the death of his mother. The Town of Brookhaven gives
                       him land in 1679 as if he were an adult. He could have been in his mid to late 30’s when he began his
                       family. This is probably older than most people when they begin their family, but not unusual. William
                       Fancy, Jr. had some financial problems in his earlier years and may have waited to be married.

                  9.    Richard Fancy was in Islip in 1726 and appeared in court in Suffolk County in 1727, and Richard “Fanshaw”
                      (Fancher) was on a Stamford Tax List in 1728. There is no conflict in dates. Richard Fancy in Islip,
                      Long Island could have moved to Stamford, Connecticut.  He is not listed in more than one place in
                      any one year.

10.   From Stamford, Connecticut, Richard Fancher went to Roxbury, Morris Co., New Jersey, an area that
                       was predominately settled by families originally from the Southampton, Southold, and Brookhaven areas
                       of Long Island.

11. The distance between the Fancy/Fanshaws in Long Island and the Fancher/Fanshaws in Stamford, Stratford, and Branford, Connecticut was only a short trip directly across the Long Island Sound.


It can be easily seen that there are many positive points that can connect the Colonial Fanchers with William Fancy.  William Fancy, Jr. would have probably been in his thirties when he began his family, but this is not all that unusual.

                               David Faucher of the French Church, Threadneedle Street, London, England

David Faucher and his wife Marthe Des Fontaines were in the French Church on Threadneedle Street in London, England and are shown in the church records 1696-1707. After 1707 they disappear from the church records and no researcher has been able to find this family or its individual members. Their children were Jean, Elizabeth, Marthe, Ester, Suzanne, and Jean David.   

Listed are the things to be considered when looking at David Faucher and Martha Desfontaines as parents of the Colonial Fanchers: 

1.       There is no known document or any evidence suggesting a link between the London Fauchers and Colonial Fanchers, nor anything that would constitute proof of such a relationship.


2.      The only link between London and America is the perceived similarities in the surname spellings for Jean Faucher and John Fancher.


3.       Jean Faucher’s London parents, or his sisters, do not appear in Colonial records. There is no evidence that suggests Jean Faucher came to the American Colonies.


4.      William Hoyt Fancher left no written record of any relationship between the London and Colonial people. He merely opined that John Fancher and Jean Faucher might have been the same person based on the limited research and records available to him in the 1930s. This is very clear in his book.


5.      William Hoyt Fancher had no other possible candidates for parents of the Colonial Fanchers at the time of his death.  In a 1936 letter to Colonel John Richards, which in part discussed the Fauchers, Mr. Fancher stated “But as far as the writer can find after 10 years of searching, no positive information of any kind, can be found before the original six, first stated in this letter, that would help connect with any person, persons, or country.”

6.      The Colonial Fanchers would have been born about 1695-1715 during the same period (1696-1707) the London Fauchers were born.  Together, this would have created a family of 11 children. In the exact same time period the 6 children of David Faucher were recorded in the Threadneedle Church records, it is improbable that there were 5 additional children (Fanchers) who were all never recorded. There is no relationship because none of John Fancher’s 5 siblings (Catherine, William, Hannah, David and Richard) from Colonial America were baptized in London as the children of David Faucher and Marthe Des Fontaines.


 7.     The naming patterns of the Colonial Fanchers and the London Fauchers do not match. Based on these patterns, Marthe and David were obviously not the names of the Colonial Fanchers’ parents.


8.      The LDS Church freely allows a person to input data into their databases and to be “Sealed”   without documentation. The LDS record has been so widely publicized and accepted over such a  long period of time, it has not been questioned by most.  

David Faucher can only be connected by a very slender thread; the similarity in appearance of the Faucher surname to the Fancher surname. There is no evidence, on any level, that links David Faucher with the Colonial Fanchers.

Findings Of The Authors 

The weight of evidence indicates the William Fancy/Fanshaw Family of Long Island are the progenitors of the people who took the surname Fancher.  

During the course of several years, an examination of every original Fancher colonial record was made. Additional information on the migration patterns, the close interaction between Long Island and Connecticut families, studies of the families associated with the Fancys on Long Island and those associated with the Fanchers in Connecticut and New Jersey, the histories of the places involved, religious histories, and other supporting evidence was all carefully taken into consideration.

 The remainder of this work is more detailed information about these families and supporting documentation of these conclusions.   


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