Recorded in a number of spellings including Hansie, Jancey, Jansey, Jancy, Jansie, Jencey, Johncey, Johnsey, Johnsee, Joinsey, Joncey, Jonsey, and even Ginsie, Gaunsey, and Yancey, this is probably an English surname, although it could be Dutch or Flemish. Its origins are obscure and unproven, although it has been suggested that it may be the forerunner of the American descriptive word Yankee. However spelt it is almost certainly one of the many patronymics which developed from the ancient Christian name John orJohann. This name is ultimately from the the ancient Hebrew Yochan meaning "God has blessed me with a son", and was introduced from the Holy Land by returning pilgrims and Crusaders in the 12th century a.d.. It rapidly became the most popular of all baptismal names in the period when surnames were rare, but thereafter became in its many forms, a surname in its own right. There are known to be over one thousand medieval surnames which owe their origin to John and its alternative nicknames forms of Jan, Jon and Jen. To these were added various suffix such as "-son", or in this case, usually "-ey" which may mean Little Jan or more likely son of Jan. It is unclear when the surname was first recorded, but certainly it appears in the surviving church registers for the diocese of London in Stuart times. These early recordings include examples such as Rycharde Jancey at St Brides church, Fleet Street, on August 1st 1628, Mary Ginsey, the daughter of Richard Ginsey, christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on October 28th 1645, and Petrus, the son of Richardi Jansie, christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on February 2nd 1656 and John Johnsey at St Mary Whitechapel, on January 1st 1734.
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