This rather unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is from a nickname for a worthy and honourable citizen, probably an Alderman or Burgess of the town. The name is derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "d(e)igne, deyn(e), dain(e)", worthy, fitting, from the Old French "digne", originally from the Latin "dignus". This is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. The first recording (see below) is from this source. However, the surname may also be locational from a minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place called Dane, thought to have been in Kent due to the prevalence of recordings from that county. The placename is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "dence", the Middle English "dene", meaning a valley. The first recording from this source is of one Richard de la Dane in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Kent. Gilbert Dain was recorded as a christening witness at St. Andrew's, Holborn, London, on February 17th 1643. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Dine, which was dated 1201, in the "Pipe Rolls of Surrey", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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