This interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and developed from a nickname for a thievish or dark-haired person, from the Middle English "raven", a development of the Old English pre 7th Century "hraefn". In some cases it may be from a personal name derived from this element, taken over into Middle English from the Old Norse byname "Hrafn"; an example of this is one, Rauen de Engelbi recorded in the 1185 Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire. It is also present in placenames such as Ravenscroft and Rawnsley. In England, a few early forms such as William atte Raven (London, 1344) suggest that it may also be partly derived from a house-sign or an inn-sign. Other variant spellings of the name include, Reven, Revance, Rivance, Revens, Revans and Ravens. One William Raven married Elizabeth Chalener on August 27th 1564 at St. Lawrence Jewry, London. A Coat of Arms granted to a Raven family on October 15th 1561 depicts, on a gold shield, a lion rampant double queued blue on a chief indented black three bezants. The Crest is a green demi dragon, winged red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Raven, which was dated 1133, in the "Records of the Abbey of Ramsey", Bedfordshire, during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Administrator", 1100 - 1135. 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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