This famous northern family name is believed to have derived from the Germanic pre 7th Century personal compound name "Fulcher". The introduction into England was probably by the Normans, and the name translates as "people's army" from "folk", plus "heri", army. The development from Fulcher to Fletcher is both dialectal and academic, and may have arisen as a result of recordings being undertaken by a lay person of limited ability, rather than the original clerks or scribes.
The name as Fletcher is normally associated with arrow making: however, this is not always an acceptable explanation, the Fletcher being responsible for the equipping of the bowman, a medieval supply officer. Representative recordings of the family name include John Fletcher, who married Elizabeth Allen at Tettenhall, County Stafford, on December 30th 1606, and Simon Fletcher, baptised at Old Swinford, County Worcester, on September 10th 1659. The Coat of Arms of this branch of Fletcher is given as sable, a cross patonce between four escallops or, on a chief gules, a lion passant and a crescent for difference, both of the second. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Flecher, which was dated 1203, in the "Assize Court Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216.
The Fletcher name is recorded 34,143 times in the 1881 census. By the time of 1998 electoral roll there had been a increase in the number to 41,612. More detailed statistics are shown below. The rate is expressed as Occurrences of the name per million names. On the distribution maps below, the lowest distribution is in white and the highest distribution is coloured dark blue.