This interesting name of Medieval Irish origin is a modern variant, along with Fenning and Fauning of the name O'Finan, the Anglicization of the Gaelic 'O'Fionnain', the 'O' denoting 'descendent of', with the root word 'Fionn', meaning fair. However, Fanning is also a name introduced into Southern Ireland by the Normans, and is thought to have derived from the personal name Panin, and prominent in County Limerick, where Fanningstown indicates the location, although the family were originally from Ballingarry in County Tipperary. The O'Finans were of the Ui Fiachrach Muaighe group and chiefs of Coolcarney in County Mayo. St. Finan (died 661) is the earliest name bearer on record, Dominick Fanning was a mayor of Limerick who distinguished himself at the Siege of that city in 1651. Amongst the later Irish recordings is the christening of one Bridget Fannin, the infant daughter of William Fannin and Catherine Malone on January 12th 1866 at bourney, County Tipperary. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas Fanning, 'Lord of Aine', which was dated 1540, Knockainy, County Limerick, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as 'Good King Hal', 1509-1547. 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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