This unusual surname is apparently French in origin, deriving from the Ancient (pre 1066)French "Devin". According to research, the name is a cynical nickname for one who enjoyed a good time, a "buveur" - a drinker of wine. However it is more probable that the name is locational describing one who comes from the village of Vienne in Isere, or even from a place called "Vin" as a Coat of Arms was granted to the "De Vin" of Paris in (Circa) 1700. Perhaps not surprisingly the arms depict a sun in splendour against a blue sky over three plump bunches of grapes! It is presumed that the original Devin's came over at or after the 1066 Conquest, one Nicholas Le Devin being recorded in the Hertfordshire Rolls of 1187. The transposition to the "modern" spellings probably coincided with the change of language from French to Medieval English in the 14th century, certainly recordings show no French influence. Examples include Anne Dewen christened at St. Dunstan's Church, Stepney on August 6th 1656 in the "reign" of Oliver Cromwell, whilst Sarah Dewan married Joseph James at St. Mattew's Church, Bethnal Green on July 27th 1802. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon Dewens which was dated April 15th 1582, a christening witness at St. James Garlickhythe, London during the reign of Queen Elizebeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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