Recorded in various spellings including Campagne, Campaigne, Champaigne, and Champagne (French) and Champney, Champneys, Champness, Champniss and Champain (English) this is a noble surname of pre 9th century Old French origins. Introduced into the British Isles after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, it is a regional name given in the first instance to someone from the Champagne region of France. The place name derives from the Latin word "campania", meaning a plain or flat land. It is is also the name of various places in France, and from these may originate the relatively rare locational French surnames as shown above. Sadly many early French records were destroyed during the Revolution of 1792, so most early recordings are to be found in England. These include John de Champenay in the register of the Freemen of the City of York in 1333, and John Champness, recorded in the records of the county of Kent in 1520. A French coat of arms undated but granted to the Count of Champagne probably about the year 1400, has the blazon of a red lion rampant on a gold field, whilst in England similar arms were granted to Sir John Champneys, the Lord Mayor of London in 1534. This also has a red lion rampant, although on a field per pale of silver and black. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of William le Champeneys. This was dated 1219, in the Curia Regis rolls of the county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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