This very interesting English surname has several possible origins. Recorded in the various spellings of Drane, Drain, Dran, Drayn, Dreng, Drains etc. the most likely explanation for most nameholders is that they are of Norse-Viking origins. The derivation in that case is from the pre 7th century personal name 'Dreng' which in the English context describes a 'freeman who held lands'. The second explanation is topographical and describes a person resident by a 'drain'. This was not a small pipe or ditch but usually a major canalised river such as the 'Great Drain of Bedford', whose origins date back to Roman times. Finally there is a claim that the name in some cases derives from the Olde English word 'dron' and as such was a nickname for a lazy person, a drone i.e. a male honey bee renowned for its inactivity! To add to the confusion there could be an Irish element, in that in Ireland 'Drane' is an anglicization of the Gaelic names O'Dreain and Drohan. Early examples of the recordings include John atte Drene of Somerset in 1273, whilst Roger Drane is recorded in the 1276 Hundred Rolls of Yorkshire. Walter le Dran, who figures in the 1285 Assize Rolls of the county of Essex is clearly betrayed by his situation, but it is unlikely that this description became hereditary! The coat of arms associated with the surnames has the blazon of a silver field charged with a lion rampant proper, in chief three red knights spurs. The crest is a demi lion rampant proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Dreng, which was dated 1155, in the feudal rolls of the county of Durham, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'The church builder', 1154 - 1189. 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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