This interesting surname may derive from two possible origins. Firstly, it may be of Scottish locational origin, and an Orkney surname, also found as Lennie, from either Linay, which once formed part of the township of Beneath-the-Dykes, Grimeston, Harray, or from Linay in North Ronaldsay. The North Isles Lennies originally came from this latter place. The Records of the Earldom of Orkney record one Robert Lenay, a juror on an Assize Court in 1576. The surname is well recorded in the Islands' Church Registers, early examples being the marriage of Jonet Linay and David Mowat on June 24th 1634, at Shapinsay, and the marriage of Steven Linay and Janet Scott on December 4th 1657, at Kirkwell.However, the name may also be of French origin, either as a locational name from Linay, the name of a commune in the Ardennes; or a derivative of Line, an occupational name for a maker of linen from flax, deriving from the Old French "lin", flax. This was introduced into Britain by French Huguenots in the late 15th and 16th Centuries, fleeing religious persecution. Abraham, son of Abraham and Anne Linay, was christened on February 11th 1695, at the French Huguenot Church, Threadneedle Street, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mawnis Lenay, a witness in Harray, which was dated 1557, in "Records of the Earldom of Orkney (1299 - 1614)", during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542 - 1567. 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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