This most interesting and unusual surname may have originated from two possible sources. Firstly, it may be a variant of "Lancelin", a diminutive name of Old French origin, composed of the definite article "le, la", and the Old French word "ancel", a domestic servant, plus the diminutive suffix "-in"; hence "l'ancel-in". However, a second interpretation suggests that the name may be a variant of "Langelay, Langeley", found in Normandy, which is of Old French origin, from "l'angelet", a small angel, from "angel", angel, and the diminutive suffix "-et", plus the definite article. This was probably a nickname denoting a person of angelic temperament or appearance. The first recorded namebearer appears in the late 13th Century (see below), while Helin Lancelin married John Maden on August 6th 1570, at St. Lawrence Pountney, London. Other early recordings include: the christening of Nicolas Lanselin at Maine-et-Loire, in 1618; the marriage of John Lanceley to Mary Shipman on August 24th 1654, at Writtle in Sussex; and the marriage of Mary Lanceley and John Britland on July 15th 1766, at Thornton le Moors, Cheshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Lancelin, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire", 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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