This is a truly traditional name which dates back to the very beginnings of written history. It maybe described as Olde English, which also includes Gaelic and Celtic, and derives from one of the earliest of all baptismal names - 'Aelfwine'. This translates as 'noble-friend', a meaning which no doubt contributed considerably to its early popularity. The modern surname includes the spellings Alvin, Alven, Elvin, Elven, Elvins and no doubt others as well. Judging by the spread of early recordings across England, the name was popular everywhere, however the surnames are much rarer, probably as a result of the Norman influence in the medieval times, which tended to emasculate pre 1066 traditions. Examples of the early recordings of the surname include Elfinus de Benindenne of Kent in 1214, he was apparently the prior of St Gregory's, John Alvene of Cambridge in the 1279 Hundred Rolls of that county, and Thomas Eluwn of Worcester in 1327. The coat of arms granted in Norfolk has the blazon of a silver field charged with a red chevron between three black martlets. The martlets indicate that the holder of the arms lived by his wits, having little or no land from which to draw an income. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Elfwin, which was dated 1193, in the pipe rolls of the county of Hereford, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as 'The Lion-heart', 1189 - 1199. 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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