This early occupational and mainly 'midlands' English surname, is actually of pre medieval French origins. Introduced into England at the time of the famous Norman Conquest of 1066, it derives from the French word 'flaonet,' meaning a 'little flan', and described a maker of patisserie or pancakes. The surname is recorded in France today, but as Flaneau, Flanneau, Flanet, although originally as Flanoel and Flaonet. Occupational surnames were amongst the first to be created in the 11th century, but did not usually become hereditary unless a son or a grandson followed the founder into the same line of business. Many did not, in which case the name died out. However after about the 13th century, what we now recognise as surnames did become hereditary, and sometimes with minor spelling changes they have descended through to this day. The first recording of this surname that we have, is that of Richard le Flauner. He appears in the Friary Rolls of Leicestershire in the year 1211, indicating that he was employed as a pasty maker in a monastery. This was one of the sort-after posts of the time, when the monks and friars had a reputation for looking after their stomachs. Simon le Flanner was recorded in the court records of the city of Cambridge in 1260. This recording forms part of the guild record of skilled persons, although we do not have the details. It is unclear when the 'le' was lost, although few French prepositions survived the Middle Ages, as the traditional antagonism for the French reached its height, with the battles of Crecy and Agincourt.
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