Recorded in an extraordinary range of spellings including: Fine, Fines, Fynes, Fiennes, Foine, Finn, Fynn, Phinn, Phinnis, Finnes and Finnis, this is basically an English surname, but with some overlap in Scotland, Ireland and even France. It has two probable derivations, the first being from the pre 7th century Norse-Viking word "finnr", and meaning the fair one, which is also the origin of the Irish surname O'Finn or Finn. It is also possible that the name is a derivation of the Old French word "fin", originally as Fina a medieval personal name of endearment, which translates loosely as "tender and delicate", but possibly given the robust humour of the Middle Ages, one which had as a nickname the totally reverse meaning! The surname is also recorded heraldically, the "arms" of the Finnis family of Brook House, in Devonshire, having the blazon of Argent, a thistle leaved vert, flowered gules, between three mullets azure.Early examples of the surname recording include: Hugo Fin of Yorkshire in the pipe rolls of that county in 1189, Richard Fine of Warwickshire in the pipe rolls for the year 1196, Thomas Phinnis at the church of St Botolphs Bishopgate, on May 7th 1666, Susan Fiennes who married Thomas Fisher at St Giles Cripplegate, both in the city of London, and finally Mary Finnis who married John Wharton, at St Georges chapel, Mayfair, Westminster, on July 12th 1747. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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