This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in the Kent-Sussex region. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared from maps since the 12th Century, due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of enforced "clearing" and enclosure of rural lands for sheep pastures, from the 15th Century onwards. The placename was probably composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "fiscere", fisherman, and "-denn", a pasture; hence the fishermen's pasture. The second element "denn" is a popular placename element in the Sussex and Kent Weald district, and the numerous names ending in "-den" in Kent are generally names of old pastures. Early recordings in Kent Church Registers include the christening of Margeret, daughter of John Fissenden, on March 25th 1566, at Cranbrook, and the marriage of Wyllyam Fyshenden and Alse Harson on January 23rd 1588, at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Dover. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Fysshenden, which was dated November 13th 1564, marriage to Elizabeth Parker, at Horsmonden, 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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