This interesting and unusual name is of medieval English origin and is a topographic surname for someone who lived in a low-lying marshy area. The derivation is from the old English pre 7th Century "foenn", which is the East Saxon form of the word "fenn", meaning marsh or bog. In the modern idiom, the spellings include Fenn, Venn, Vaun(e), Vance, Vanns, Van, Feenan, Feenin, Fenning and Fanning. Amongst examples of namebearers recorded in Norfolk are Alice Fann who married Thomas Preston on October 8th 1593 at St.Gregory's church, Norwich and Robert Fanning, the son of William and Ann who was christened on January 13th 1705 at St. Mary's church, Norwich. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John del Fan. This was dated 1199, in the Memoranda Roll of Essex, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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