This interesting and long-established surname is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were given, in the first instance, with reference to occupation, or to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, and to habits of dress. The derivation, in this case, is from the Old French "seignour", Anglo-Norman French "segneur", ultimately from the Latin "senior", elder, and originally denoted an elder or chief, perhaps the lord of the manor, someone who behaved in a lordly manner, or perhaps acted the part of a lord in a local pageant. The second possibility is that Senior was given as a distinguishing nickname to the elder of two bearers of the same given name, for example, father and son. Early examples of the surname include: Hugh Seinure (Norfolk, 1212); Thomas le Senyur (1271); and Henry Senior (Oxfordshire, 1279). In the modern idiom the surname has no less than fourteen spelling variations including: Seniour, Seanor, Seener, Seignior, Sainer and Senyard. A Coat of Arms granted to the Senior family is a shield divided per fess red and azure with an ermine fess; in chief two gold lions' heads erased, in base a silver dolphin naiant embowed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Seignure, which was dated 1164, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189.
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