This ancient English surname, recorded in many forms, is a development of the pre-medieval given name 'Vivianus', itself of Roman (Latin) origins. Introduced into England by the Normans after the 1066 Invasion, Vivianus formed the basis for a surprisingly wide variety of modern surnames which include: Vivian, Videan, Vidgen, Vidgeon, Vyvyan, Fiddian, Fidgeon, Phython, and Phythian. The original meaning was alive or living, perhaps a commentary on the birth survival rate of the early times. St. Vivianus was the bishop of Saintes, in France in the 5th century, but the name did not achieve popularity until much later. Early recordings taken from surviving rolls and charters of the Middle Ages include: Johannes filius Viuian in the Pipe Rolls of Kent in 1175, John Vivyan in the Hundred Rolls of Hampshire in 1275, and William Phythien, who appears in the Cartulary of Ramsey Abbey, Cambridgeshire in the year 1250. John Fivian is noted in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire in 1279, whilst John Vyvyan is recorded in the Sussex County Subsidy Rolls of 1296. Later church recordings include Thomas Vivian of St Columb Major, Cornwall, a christening witness in 1544, whilst Henry Vivian of Merionethshire, Wales, was a student at Oxford University in 1586. Other examples showing different spellings include Mary Phythian, the daughter of David and Elizabeth Phythian, who was christened at St. Andrews church, Holborn, London, and Peter Phythyan who married Jane Green on February 3rd 1696, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster. The coat of arms granted in Bodmin, Cornwall, in 1507, has the blazon of a gold field, a blue chevron between three lions heads erased in purple, a chief in red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Vivien. This was dated 1235, in the Cartulary of Stone Abbey, Staffordshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop," often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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