Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is a medieval English surname. It was originally only male but gradually female forms were adopted and these in turn became surnames. The ultimate origin is however Hebrew and means "The Lord is gracious". It was one of hundreds adopted by the famous Crusaders of the12th century and brought back to Northern Europe during that century, where it began to spread right across the continent. It's earliest form was the Latin Johannes, and it was not specialized as a female given name until the 17th Century. In the modern idiom the spellings include Jane, Jan, Jaine, Jean, Jenne and Genn, and the patronymic forms, meaning "son of Jan", Jaynes, Jeynes, Jeanes, Jeenes and Jenns. An early recording of the name is in Oxfordshire, of John Jane (1548). Among the recordings in Devon are the christening of Elizabeth Jeans in Exeter in 1676, and the marriage of Richard Jeens and Anne Systen in Powderham on January 1st 1679. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon Ians, which was dated 1297, in the "Ministers Accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall", 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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