Recorded in a number of spellings including Anan, Annan, Annon, Hanan, Hannan, Hannon, Honeen, Honan, and Oonian, this is an Irish surname, whilst as Onion, Onions and Union it can be either Irish or English. If the former the origination is the ancient Gaelic O' hUainin, meaning the male descendant of the green (man), and probably a reference to a holy man, one who wore a green cloak or cassock. The surname Greene when found in Ireland was originally Honeen, but can also be confused with the English settler surname of Green or Greene. The spelling as Union can either be from Honeen, or it also can be an English settler name, dating in Ireland from about 1640. If the latter, the derivation is the early English and Welsh personal name Einion, meaning just and virtuous. Examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving registers of both Ireland and England include James Union christened at St Mary Whitechapel in the city of London, on July 6th 1585, Christopher Hanan of Tallow, County Waterford, on March 12th 1797, and James Annan, a farmer, sailed on the ship Panthea of Liverpool, and bound for New York on May 4th 1846. We are unable to say precisely when the surname was first recorded, as the Irish registers were lost in the civil war of 1922, when the IRA burnt the Public Records Office in Dublin. This contained most if not quite all of the country's priceless records back to the 9th century. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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