Recorded as Genge, Jank, Janks, Jenk, Jenckes, Jenkes, Jenks, Jinks, Jynkson, Jinkson, and others, this is an English medieval surname, but one arguably of Norman-French origins. It is what is known as a 'back-formation' and was created from the early personal name Jenkin. This may not look like it, but is a diminutive of the given name John. This was also a popular spelling as Jan or Johan, and then Jen, to which was added the diminutive suffix ' -kin'. As such it had the meaning Little John or possibly John son. In the Middle Ages it was almost a national sport to create new personal names as nicknames from existing ones, and Crusader names such as John were particularly popular in this respect. As a surname John or Johan is recorded in over one thousand spellings of which this is one. Early examples of the recordings of the surname in surviving early church records of the city of London include Bernard Jynckes, buried at St Dionis Backchurch in 1603, Amye Jenckes who married Robert Lymbarr at the same church in 1606, and Robert Genge who married Margaret Rose on October 16th 1681, at St. Mary-le-bone Rd., on February 21st 1698. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Walter Jenks of Oxfordshire. This was dated 1542, in the Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, during the reign of King Henry V111th of England, known to some as "Good King Hal", 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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