This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a Scottish locational name from a place thus called, near Roslin, in Midlothian. The derivation of the placename is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "dryge", dry, with "denu", valley; hence "dry valley". During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. The surname is first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below). In 1329 payment was made to Henricus de Driden "for behalf of the soul of King Robert, and in compensation for loss of multure" (the miller's fee). Laurence Dridane held a tenement in Stirling in 1481. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the christening of John, son of David and Isabel Dryden, in 1525, in Cumberland; and the marriage of Thomas Dryden and Elizabeth Lydell on December 8th 1588, at Hexham, Northumberland. The poet John Dryden (1631 - 1700) was born in Northamptonshire, but his forebears had moved there from Cumberland in the 16th Century. A Coat of Arms granted to the Dryden family is a blue shield with a gold lion rampant and in chief a gold sphere between two gold estoiles, the Crest being a gold demi lion, sustaining in the dexter paw a gold sphere. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip de Dryden, which was dated 1296, in the "Legal Documents of Forfar", during the reign of John Balliol of Scotland, 1292 - 1296. 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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