Origin of the surname
The name has nothing to do with flowers or with dew! The surname is an Anglicized form of a French name, derived from the 13th Century French words "flor", flower and "dieu", God. It was originally an oath-name. Other examples of oath-names include "Debney" (God bless you), "Dugard" (God protect you) and "Pardew" (By God!). Some of these may also have been nicknames, as in this instance, the term may have been given to someone who was greatly concerned with their smartness of dress.
The surname is recorded in England as early as 1461 when John Flowerdew was recorded as parson at Drayton, near Norwich in Norfolk. William (son of John and Kate Flowerdew) was christened in 1532 at nearby Hethersett. He was probably a brother of Edward Flowerdew of Hethersett who was educated at Cambridge, became a lawyer and was a Member of Parliament. He amassed considerable estates in Norfolk and is reputed to have been a harsh landlord. He was also responsible for stripping lead from the roof of the dissolved abbey of Wynmondham, contrary to the wishes of the parishoners.
In 1549 at Hethersett, a mob led by Robert Kett (a farmer) tore down hedgerows belonging to John Flowerdew because they were restricting access to the common lands.
Spelling variations include: Flowerdew, Flowerdue, Flourdough, Flowerdo, Flowerday and many more.
John James Flowerdew and his brother Will were both mariners who visited Australia in the 1860s and decided to stay. Their direct ancestors had lived in the eastern side of Norfolk for two hundred years. There is very little doubt that they descended from the family that was established at Drayton in 1461 and Hethersett in the mid-1500s. The two Flowerdew brothers raised their families in the Sydney suburb of Balmain.
Our more recent Flowerdew ancestors include:
Our Flowerdew clan descends from Benjamin Flowerdew (c1815-1851).