This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and derives from the Latin male given name "(H)adrianus", originally an ethnic name for someone from the seaport of Adria - which gave its name to the Adriatic Sea - who settled in Rome and became known as "the man from Adria" (in Latin, "Adrianus"). The ultimate origin of "Adria" is the Latin "ater", coal-black, referring to the black sands of the seaport. The personal name was first introduced into England in the 7th Century when a North African monk, St.Adrian, was sent to Canterbury by Pope St. Vitalian in 668. The flourishing state of the English church at the time owes much to this saint. The only English pope, Nicholas Brakespear (died 1159), chose the name Adrian 1V, despite this however, Adrian was never in widespread use in England. In 1186, one Adrianus janitor was noted in Documents of St. Benet of Holme, Norfolk. Early examples of the surname include: John Adrien (Suffolk, 1273); John Adrian, Sheriff of London (1258); and Ralph Adrien (London, 1277). On February 10th 1547, Thomas, son of John Adrian, was christened at St. Dionis Backchurch, London, and on January 16th 1611, Marie Adrian and Robart Freman were married at Howden, Yorkshire. A Coat of Arms granted to the Adrian family is a red shield with four gold escallops in cross, the top of each shell meeting in centre point. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Adrian, which was dated circa 1232, in the "Cartulary of St. Mary", Clerkenwell, London, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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.
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