Recorded in many spelling forms including Leaven, Leavens, Leven, Levene, and Lewin, this interesting name is of Old English pre 7th Century origins. It derives from personal name "Leofwine", composed of the elements "leof", meaning dear or beloved and "wine", a friend. Given such a meaning it is hardly surpriising that the name was one of the most popular in the period known historically as "The Dark Ages", effectively the time from the end of the Roman Invasion in 410 a.d., and the coming of the Normans in 1066. At this time, a period which pre-cedes the advent of surnames by many centuries, it is recorded in ancient charters and religious works as Leofwin, Lifwin, and Leuuin, the double "u" being an early form of "w". In 12th century Middle English the spelling became standardised as "Lefwine". The name was unusual in that it 2survived" the Norman Conquest when for many years it was politically correct to call children by Norman-French names such as william or Henry. The survival may be due to an English missionary called Lefwine, who became the bishop of Ghent, subsequently the name was also popular in the Low Countries during the Middle Ages. The surname development includes William Lowen of Worcestershire in 1275, Roger Livene of Cambridgeshirein 1279, and Robert Levene of Essex in 1327. Later church recordings include Alice Lowen, who was christened on January 27th 1576 at St. John's, Hackney in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Lewyn, which was dated 1230, in the "Northamptonshire Pipe Rolls". This was during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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