This is an ancient metonymic surname of pre-medieval origins which describes one who owned or managed an iron smelting works (the oven), in the pre-medieval period. The origins are equally Olde English and Anglo-Saxon (German), although the latter referred specifically to a baking oven, one large enough for the whole village to bake their bread in. In both cases the early spelling was "ofen", and whilst the surname form which developed was generally in the spelling of Oven if English, and Offen if German, both spellings appear in both countries. In Germany the name can also be a nickname for an honest person. This may also be associated with the bread making, as the "Offen" was empowered to extract payment for the use of the communal oven. Examples of the name recordings include: Brose Offen, who married Anna Langen at Konigsberg in Neumark, Wuertt, Germany, on September 22nd 1583, whilst in England, William Offen was christened at St. Botolph's without Aldgate, London, on September 1st 1633; he was the son of John and Elizabeth Offen. The Coat of Arms of Offen was granted in Lippe, Germany, the blazon being a gold field with a blue fesse charged with two gold baulks. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Attenovene, which was dated 1276, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Somerset", 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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