This interesting surname is of Irish or French origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, it may be a patronymic of the personal name Anne, itself coming from the female given name "Hannah" or "Anna" which is either an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O h'Annaigh", descendant of Annach, from the Gaelic prefix "O", meaning grandson or male descendant of, and "Annaigh", a byname meaning "iniquity", or it may be derived from the Hebrew "Chane", meaning "he (God) has favoured me (i.e., with a child). Secondly, Anning may be from a patronymic of the French female personal name "Agnes", deriving from the Greek "hagnos" meaning "pure" or "sacred". Only a handful of surnames surviving were derived from the name of the first bearer's mother. This is because European society has been patriarchal throughout history, and as a result, the given name of the male head of the household has been handed on as a distinguishing name to successive generations. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Anning, Annis, Annice and Annes, and it dates back to the mid 17th Century (see below). Two daughters of William and Margaret Anning were christened at St. Clement Danes, Westminster, London, Frances being christened on October 23rd 1732, and Fanny Maria on April 7th 1735. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was Mary Anning (1799 - 1847), a discoverer of the skeleton of ichtyosaurus in a cliff near Lyme, and subsequently the first specimens of plesiosaursus and pterodactylus. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Annis, which was dated 1657, marriage to Mary Matthews, at St. Peter's, Paul's Wharf, London, during the reign of Commonwealth, 1649 - 1660. 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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