This interesting and unusual surname, with variant spellings Fissenden, Fysshenden, Fishingden etc., widely recorded in church registers of Kent and Sussex from the mid 16th Century, is of locational origin from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain. The prime cause of this "lost village" phenomenon was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century, along with natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348. The original place is believed to have been in the south east of England, most likely in Sussex or Kent, and component elements of the name are the Old English pre 7th Century "fisc", (Medieval metonymic occupational name for a fisherman, hence "The pasture of Fisc's people". On November 13th 1564, Richard Fysshenden and Elizabeth Parker were married in Horsmonden, Kent, and on June 15th 1575, the marriage of Marian Fishenden and Nicholas Longe took place in Lamberhurst, Kent. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Fissenden, (christening), which was dated February 23rd 1560, Cranbrook, Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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