This rare and interesting surname is ultimately of Hebrew origin, from the personal name "Laban". The given name originated as a byname, deriving from the Hebrew "laban", white, and would have been given to one with white hair or a fair complexion. The creation of names from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day names derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics, as in this instance the "white haired one". The name is referred to by Shylock in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice", in the following quote; "When Laban and himself were compromised that all the earlings which were streak'd and pied should fall as Jacob's hire". The surname can also be found as Leban, Labin and Labon. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include; Barbara Laban who married Charles Berry on July 2nd 1607 at St. Mary Mounthaw; Mary Laban who married John Mason on September 12th 1631 at St.Andrew by the Wardrobe; and John, son of Edmund and Ann Laban, who was christened on February 26th 1632 at St. Botolph Bishopsgate. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is a red shield with three gold keys. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Labin, which was dated December 25th 1600, witness at a christening at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558-1603. 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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