Recorded as Nance and possibly others, this is a medieval Cornish surname. It is locational from a place called Nance, an estate in the Parish of Illogan, which was, not many generations ago, in the possession of the Nance family. The derivation is from the Celtic word "nans", meaning a valley. During the Middle Ages, as it became more customary for people to leave their native homes, generally to seek work elsewhere, they would often adopt or be given the village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Among the early recordings of this name in Cornwall are the christenings of Charyte Nance on April 29th 1561 at St. Clement, and of Arthur Nance in 1617 in Illogan. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Nance, which was dated 1557, Illogan, Cornwall, during the reign of Queen Mary, "Bloody Mary", 1553 - 1558. 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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