Recorded in a number of spellings including Hany, Hannay, Haney, Heaney, Hainey, and probably others, this is a surname of confused origins of which there appear to be at least three! To try to explain. In all the spellings it can be either English, Irish or Scottish. If English, it is a Crusader name deriving from the biblical Anna or Hannah, and introduced from the Holy Land in about the 12th century. At the time it became the fashion for returning knights to name any subsequent children by biblical names, in honour of the father's claimed efforts to free Jerusalem from Muslims control. Anna and Hannah derive from the hebrew word 'chana' meaning 'god has favoured me (with a child)'. If Scottish it is believed either to have the same root as the English, or is locational from a now 'lost' medieval village called Hannethe or Hannithe, in the county of Wigtonshire. If Irish it derives from the pre 10th century Gaelic O' hEighnigh, meaning the male descendant of Eanna, a personal name probably meaning 'bird of prey' or similar. Because of the confusion of origin, it is difficult to provide accurate first recordings. However Gilbert de Hanithe was recorded in Wigton in 1296, when he pledged loyalty to the government of Scotland, whilst in England Elizabeth Hany was christened at St Andrews Enfield, Middlesex, on April 26th 1562, and John Hainey was a christening witness at All Hallows church, Staining, city of London, on April 19th 1644.
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