Recorded in several spellings including Sangwen, Sangwin and Sanguine, this is an English surname, but one probably of early French origins. It is believed to derive from the word 'sanguin', and as such to describe either one of easy going nature, or who habitually had a 'sanguine expression', or perhaps the reverse. The medieval times were a period that made up for the vicissitudes of life with a very 'robust' sense of humour. This is not unlike the less subtle and more basic levels of humour found in the late 20th century, and for much the same reasons, a lack of hope in part of the population, and a collapse in morality amongst many of the rest. The word 'sanguin' was probably introduced into Britain by the Norman-French invaders of 1066, and certainly it is one of the very first names to be recorded in the early church registers. The compulsory use of registers was one of the reforms introduced by King Henry V111 from 1537. There was little else that he did right during his long reign, but this was certainly one of his better ideas. Examples taken from the surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Jane Sangwen who married William Brown at Uxbridge in Middlesex, on October 16th 1542, Hannah Sangwin, the daughter of Thomas Sangwin, christened at St Brides church, Fleet Street, on July 14th 1656, and Richard Sangwine, whose daughter Ann, was christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on June 26th 1774.
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