Recorded as Fenck, Fenech, Fenich, and Fenkel, this surname is of ancient Roman and later medieval German origins. It is now recorded widely in other parts of Europe including Britain, France, and even the Maltese islands. It has several possible explanations for its origins, the first being that it is a metonymic occupational name for a millet farmer. If so the derivation is from the pre 7th century German word "venich", itself said to be a development from the even earlier Latin "panicum", which literally means panic grass.Secondly it may be topographical, and as such would have described a person who lived by land where this crop was grown. Thirdly and in our opinion the most likely, it derives from the word "fenich", meaning fennel, a popular aromatic herb and vegetable, first recorded in the Middle Ages and one which remains equally popular today. The surname has been widely recorded in the surviving charters of those early days, and recordings include examples such as Johannes Fenich given as being the Ritter of Lichtenberg, Germany, in 1298, Claus Fencher of Gaildorf, Germany, in 1410, and in England Robert Feneck, who married Katherine Bouthall, on June 25th 1633, at South Ormsby, in Lincolnshire. This recording was during the reign of King Charles 1st , known to history as "The Martyr", 1625 - 1649. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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