This unusual and interesting surname is an early medieval English surname of nationality. It originally denoted an Italian national, someone from the town of Genoa in the province of Liguria. In medieval times the average English person was even less keen on persons from 'foreign parts' which could include the next village, and certainly the next county, as in the 20th century. The name "Janaway(s)" is an attempt to spell 'Genoveis', and as such phonetically it could be said to be a reasonable effort. 'Genoa' was a very important seaport in the Middle Ages and there was a considerable trade with England especially in silks and spices. Consequently merchants and master mariners from Genoa were to be found in all the costal and trading towns of Europe. There is some indication that the name "Janaway" was used as a nickname for a clever, resourceful person, since this was the opinion held of the Genoese in medieval times. The modern surname can be found recorded as Jan(n)away(s), Jan(e)way, Gannaway and Jennaway, whilst recordings include Jeremiah Jennoway of Cornhill, London, in 1670, and Richard Jannaway of Clerkenwell in 1715. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Janna, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Kent", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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