This unusual and interesting surname is an early medieval English name, originally denoting an Italian national, someone from Genoa in the province of Liguria. The name "Janaway(s)" is the medieval English spelling of the Old French word "Genoveis", meaning a Genoese, in Italian, "Genovese". Genoa was an important seaport in the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages and there was a busy 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. 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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