Recorded in several spellings including Sawny, Sawney and apparently Sawnwy, this is an English surname. It is locational and seemingly originates from a now "lost" pre medieval village called "Saurr-eg" or similar, and meaning the muddy island (-eg), or possibly the dry area on a marsh. Saurr is a Norse word, which may suggest that the village was in the north west of England. It has been estimated that at least three thousand surnames of the British Isles do originate from lost sites, so whilst unusual, this is by no means an uncommon feature of the surname lists. However locational names also being "from" names, that is to say names given to people as easy identification after they left their original homes, is also a source of variation, with few people being able to spell or write their names, and local dialects very thick. This lead to the adoption of "sounds like" spellings which may be far from the original. The surname is recorded in the surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London from the early 17th century. This was a time when there was considerable fluidity of labour, and it also coincided with a major period of land drainage, when much of the native marshland was made suitable for agriculture. These recordings include William Sawney, who married Jone Addams at the church of St Gregory's by the Tower (of London) on December 2nd 1619, and that of Aaron Sawny, the son of Thomas Sawny, christened at St Olave's, Southwark, on August 31st 1707.
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