This is one of the most unusual of all surnames. It derives, not as may be thought, from the name "Lyn(n)", but from the ancient Norman-French "line". This pre 12th Century word itself is made up of two compounds - "kin", a diminutive describing a close relationship from son to cousin, and "little", itself a diminutive and again describing a close relationship of endearment, but not usually a patronymic. With both "kin" and "little", a major contraction has taken place to leave "line", although this form of corrupted development in medieval times was not unusual, and continued in a slightly different form with Italian surnames into the 20th Century. Whilst Line or Lyn(n), or Linn, developed as a surname from the 12th Century, it also "grew" into other baptismal forms, such as Adelina, Emelina and Leceline, although in most cases these have now shrunk to Adel, Ema or Emily and Lesley. In the case of Lyn(n) this also developed its own diminutives as Lynett, Linnit, Linnett and Linnitt. Examples of the recordings include: Thomas Linot in the 1317 Assize Court Rolls of Kent, whilst Walter Lynot appears in the London Rolls of 1389. Later, in 1589, Joane Lynett was christened at St. Giles' Church, Cripplegate, London, on January 21st of that year, whilst on October 6th 1620, Elizabeth Lynett married Thomas Radney at St. Mary Abchurch, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Linet, which was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Sussex", 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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