Recorded in many forms including Jane, Jan, Jaine, Jenes, Jenn, Jenne, Jenney, Jeens, Genn and Genney, this interesting and unusual name is of medieval English origin. However spelt the derivation is from the Middle English given name Jan, a early variant of the European Johannes or the English John, both being from the Hebrew 'Yochan'. The name translates as "the Lord is gracious", and was one of many biblical names brought back to Europe by the returning 12th century Crusaders. All the many Crusades to 'free the Holy Land from the infidel Muslim' were unsuccessful, but this did not prevent the participants from giving their children such names in commemoration of the fathers efforts.Most unusually, and the reverse of almost every other name, the popular female given name 'Jane' played no part in the development of the surname, not being recorded as a baptismal name until the 17th Century, when it was associated with the religious Puritan movement. Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic surviving registers of the period include: John Gyney of Norfolk, in the tax rolls known as the Feet of Fines for that county in 1395, John Jenney, the sheriff of Norwich in 1486, the christening of Anne Jane on September 6th 1563 at Little Hampston, in the county of Devonshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Simon Jans. This was dated 1297, in the accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England. He was known by the nickname of "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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