This interesting and unusual surname is of medieval English origin, and one of first recorded. It is a topographic surname for someone who lived in a low-lying marshy area, or locational and regional for a former resident of the Fen Country of East Anglia in particular. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century "foenn", itself an East Saxon form, and meaning a marsh, lake, or boggy region. Topographical and locational surnames were amongst the earliest created, it being the easiest form of identification to call a person by the name of the nearest feature to his or her home. In the modern idiom, the surname spellings include Fann, Fenn, Venn, Vaun, Vaune, Vance, Vanns, Van, Fenning and Fanning. Amongst the early examples of namebearers taken from the surviving church registers of the county of Norfolk are Alice Fann, who married Thomas Preston, on October 8th 1593 at St. Gregory's church, Norwich and Robert Fenn, the son of William and Ann Fenn, christened on January 13th 1705, at the church of St. Mary Coslany, Norwich. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family has the blazon of a silver shield on a blue fesse three silver escallops all within a blue bordure engrailed. The crest being a dragon's head erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John del Fan, which was dated 1199, in the charters known as the "Memoranda Roll" of the county of Essex. This was during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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