This uncommon and interesting surname, recorded in English Church Registers under the variant spellings Panchin, Penchen, Pinchen, Punshon and Pinson, is of Old French origin, and belongs to that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were originally given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes and peculiarities, mental and moral qualities, and supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition. The derivation, in this instance, is from the Old French "pincon", pinson" (Norman-Picard "pinchon"), finch, used to denote a bright, cheerful person, or one with a particularly good singing voice. Pinchon was also used as a personal name as the following early recordings indicate: Hugo filus (son of) Pinchonis (Oxfordshire, 1121), and Pincun de Blacheshola (Berkshire, 1166). Medieval recordings of the surname include: Richard Pincon (Leicestershire, circa 1170), and William Puncyn (London, dated 1313). The name was re-introduced into England by French Huguenot refugees fleeing religious persecution in their own country during the 16th and 17th Centuries; on May 18th 1690, Abraham Pinchon was christened at the French Huguenot Church, Threadneedle Street, London. The marriage of Giles Panchen to Mary Allcock took place at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf, London, on January 24th 1747. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Pincun, which was dated 1166, in the "Red Book of the Exchequer", Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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