This is a surname, recorded in the 'modern' spellings of Ganning, Gannon, Goning, Gonning and many others. It may be of Olde English, Norse and Anglo-Saxon origins, or it may possibly be Irish. Taking the 'English', and most likely origin first, the derivation is from the ancient personal name 'Gunnhildr' which seems to have been female, and to the short form 'Gunnr' has been added the suffix 'ing', a form of patronymic implying 'son of Gunnhildr' or perhaps 'Little Gunnhildr'. The personal name itself is or rather was, a compound whose elements translate as 'battle-ruler' or similar, clearly the first 'Gunnhildr' was quite a powerful lady! In some ways it is typical of its 7th century period, when names both male and female were created to glorify god-like powers, and success in war. The Irish possibility is from the surname Ganning, an 'anglicised' form of the clan name O'Connaing. However this is arguable because there is no absolute proof that Irish names were recorded in England before the 16th century. Nethertheless we have quite a number of recording examples and these include John Gonging, the son of John and Ann, christened at St Brides Church, Fleet Street, London, on March 17th 1618, and Flora Gonning, who was christened at St Pancras Old Church, London, on April 9th 1863. Amongst the unusual recordings is that of Thomas Ganing, aged 16, who was a passenger on the ship 'Zenobia of Liverpool', and who left there on May 8th 1847, at the height of the Irish Potato Famine. Whether he was Irish is unclear. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Judith Ganninge, which was dated October 31st 1591, christened at St Botolphs without Aldergate, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, 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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