Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is an English medieval surname, although one later much associated with both Wales and Ireland. Recorded in the spellings of Gennens, Gennings, and the more usual Jennings, Jennins and Jennens, it is a patronymic. It derives from the given name Janyn or Jenyn, a diminutive of the personal name John, and meaning "Little John". John itself derives from the Hebrew name "Yochanan", meaning "Jehovah has favoured (me with a son)". The patronymic surname which in this case means "the son of Little John", dates back to the late 13th Century (see below), "John" being a 12th century Crusader introduction.Soldiers of the crusades returning from the Holy Land, gave to their children and specifically sons, Hebrew and Greek names as a reminder of the fathers "pilgrimage". These "English" personal names which later became surnames, include such examples as Thomas, Isaac, Abraham, and many others. In this case early recordings include Walter Jannes and Richard Janyns in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire of 1327, and Thomas Jenyn, in the charter rolls of 1428 known as "Inquisitions and Assessments relating to Feudal Aids". Elizabeth, the daughter of Thomas Gennyns, was christened on August 9th 1544, at St. Pancras', Soper Lane, London, and Blanche Gennings at St Pancras Old Chruch, on April 4th 1863. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Jonyng, which was dated 1296, in the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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