This is the most famous and popular Christian name and surname of the Christian World. From the earliest times it is recorded in its different spellings in every European country, and altogether there are estimated to be at fourteen hundred spellings! These range from base forms which include John, Jon and Johann (Austria, England, Germany, The Low Countries, Scandanavia, and Greece), Evan (Wales), Ian (Scotland), Shane (Ireland), Ivan (Russia) and Jean (France), diminutives including Giovanni, Zanni and Zoane (Italy), Janus (Poland), the Czeck Janak and Jansky, and others including Jenkin, Jeannet, Joannidi, Nannini, Zanicchi, and Gianuzzi, with patronymics including Johnson, Joynson, Jenson, Jocie, Ivanshintsev, and Ivashechkin.However spelt, all derive from the ancient biblical Hebrew "Yochanan", which translates as " He who Jehovah has favoured (with a son)". The name is of course mainly associated with St John the Baptist, and became particularly popular after the 12th century when returning Crusaders from the Holy Land too to calling their children by biblical names in commemoration of the fathers pilgrimage.These then in turn developed into surnames. The earliest recordings include Thomas John in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Buckinghamshire for the year 1279, and in Germany Walterus Johannis appears in the charters of the town of Vaihingen, in 1323, whilst the charters of the city of Friedberg fro 1344 record Baumeister Johannssen.
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