The surname Fishenden and variants probably originated in the Weald of Kent in England, an area where there are many placenames with the ending 'enden' which means ' a clearing in the forest' or 'swine pasture'.
I have been researching the surname Fishenden (my maiden name) and its variants since 1983. Most of the references that I have are after 1500, although there are a few earlier ones. Early references include spellings such as Vysshenden, Fyssenden and Physhenden.
Until after 1800, the Fishendens were mainly to be found in Kent and Sussex. A few occasionally appeared in London, and three went to New England in the 1600s. Only in the 1800s did they begin to spread, first to London and then further afield.
In the 1500s and early 1600s, they seem to have been fairly prosperous tradesmen, with a few yeomen and an occasional 'gentleman'. Their fortunes declined during and after the English Civil War, until by the early 1800s they were mainly small farmers and agricultural labourers. It was at this point that they started to move to London and elsewhere in search of work. [This is a pattern that can be found in many other families]
Fishenden and Fisenden are the two most usual spellings of the name found in Britain today. There are also Fis(h)endens in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies.
The name Fessenden is found in The United States and Canada - the descendents of those who went to America in the 1600s and were very successful.
I would be pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in or researching the name.