This interesting surname has three possible sources; firstly, it may be of Old French origin, and is either a nickname for a tall, thin man, or a metonymic occupational name for someone who gathered reeds, which were needed in the Middle Ages as a floor covering, and for weaving small baskets, or a topographical name for someone who lived in a damp area overgrown with reeds. It derives from the Middle English "cane", a development of the Old French "cane", meaning cane, reed. Secondly, it may be a Norman locational name from the town of Caen, in Calvados, Normandy, named with the Gaulish elements "catu", battle, plus "magos" meaning field, plain. Finally, it may be of Welsh origin, deriving from the female given name "Keina", perhaps a short form of such Welsh personal names as "Ceindrych, Ceinwen", from the Welsh "cain" meaning beautiful. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below). London Church Records list the marriage of Michael Cain to Rebecca Chapell, on February 2nd 1600, at St. Bride's, Fleet Street. A Coat of Arms granted to a Cain family is black, a silver phoenix. The Crest is a demi antelope per fesse blue and silver, gold collared and armed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godfrey Kein, which was dated 1198, in the "Abbey of Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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