This interesting and unusual name, with variant spellings Fairbrace, Firebrace, Fairbrass and Farbrace, derives from an Old French nickname for an "iron arm", probably denoting someone who ruled with an Iron hand, or a person who was very autocratic in their dealings with others, from the Old French words, "fer, fier", bold fierce, proud (Middle English "feer, fere"), and "bras", arm. This may also have been a nickname for a particularly brave or fierce warrior. The surname itself first appears in records in the late 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: John Fierbrace, in the 1196 Pipe Rolls of Essex; Robert Ferbraz, who was mentioned in the Calendar of the Patent Rolls of Berkshire in 1221; and the Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London list a Walter Firbras in 1280. Recordings from London Church Registers include the christening of John, son of John and Sarah Firebrace, on April 1643, at St. Botolph without Aldgate. John Firebrass, and his wife, were small landowners in the town of St. Michael's, the Barbadoes, in 1680. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Fierebrache, which was dated 1190, in the "Pipe Rolls of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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.