This interesting and unusual surname has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, Gynn may have originated as a metonymic occupational name for a trapper, or as a nickname for a particularly clever and cunning person, from the Middle English "gin, ginne", an aphetic form of the Old French "engin", skill, ingenuity, with the later meaning of "snare, trap". Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Nicknames were given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, and mental or moral characteristics, and consequently gave rise to many early medieval surnames. One Walter Gynn was recorded in the 1275 Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire. The second possibility is that Gynn is either a variant form of the Welsh "Gwyn", a nickname surname from "gwen", white-headed, favourite, or an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "MagFhinn", son of Finn, a byname from "fionn", fair or white-haired. One William ap Guyn was noted in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Shropshire, and Gwyn, together with its Irish cognate Finn, are still popular male given names. A Coat of Arms granted to the Gynn family of Hertfordshire is an azure shield with a gold griffin segreant, on a chief indented ermine three pellets, the Crest being a bird close azure on a gold garb. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Gin, which was dated 1191, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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