Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is usually a surname of pre 7th century English origins. However it is also possible at least with some nameholders that it could have Gaelic, and probably Scottish, connections. If English it definately derives from the early baptismal name "Leofwine", meaning dear friend, and as both a personal name and the later surname, it was one of the few survivors from the days of England before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Thereafter it became politically correct to adopt French names, and from the 12th century what are now called Christian names, following the famous Crusades of the period. In consequence names such as this generally only survived in areas outside the mainstream of society. It is however one of the earliest ever recorded with Wilfricus filius Leofwini appearing in the Old English Bynames Register for the year 1010. This was not however a hereditary surname, as these did not become full accepted for a further three hundred years. A second possible origin is from the Gaelic patronymic Mac giolla Giullin, meaning the son of the servant of William. The modern spellings include Levin, Leven, Lewin, Liven, Lyven, Lyvon, and patronymics Lewins, Livens, Levens and others. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Lewyn. This was dated 1230, in the Curia Regis rolls of Northamptonshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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