This unusual surname, recorded from the mid 16th Century in the English county of Lancaster, and in the Ulster county of Donegal, is of dual derivation, being either a locational name from Durn, a minor spot in the Littleborough urban district of Lancashire, or an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Duirnin", descendant of the strong-fisted one, from "dorn", fist. Durn in Lancashire is believed to be so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "derne", secret, hidden, sometimes given to places and rooks difficult to find. The Olde English suffix "-ing", when attached to a placename means "dweller at"; hence, "the dwellers at Durn". On July 1st 1565, Anna, daughter of Rici Durning, was christened at Childwall, Lancashire. The "O'Duirnin" sept belonged to Ulster where the name is variously Anglicized as Durnin, Durnian, Durnion and Durning. As Durnian it is perpetuated in the placename Ballydurnian, County Antrim. Durnion is the more usual form in Counties Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal, and the variant Durning is particularly well recorded in County Donegal. Bearers of the name Durning, mentioned in 16th and 17th Century Ulster Records as Exchequer officials and army officers, are presumably of English origin. In 1816, the marriage of Daniel Durning to Catherine Rortey was registered in Donegal. A Coat of Arms granted to the Durning family is an azure shield with a chevron between three silver antelopes saliant, the Crest being a demi azure antelope erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Allice Dorning, which was dated May 12th 1553, christened at Croston, Lancashire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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