Recorded in several forms including Severn, Severns, Seven, Sevin, Sivern, Sivorn, and others, this is an English and Welsh medieval surname. It is residential and describes a person who lived or worked on the River Severn, which flows from Wales through much of West England, to the Bristol Channel. It is first recorded as a river name in the 2nd century a.d as "Sabrina". The original meaning is uncertain, but it may have been "slow moving", and is held to be identical to the old name of the river Lee in County Cork, Ireland, which was called "Sabrann". Residential surnames, such as this, were among the earliest created, as both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Early examples of the name recording include those of Katherin Seaverne, christened on May 7th 1570, at Tewksbury, in Gloucestershire, and in Ireland Mary Ann Sivern at St Munchins church, Limerick, on March 19th 1809. The first recorded spelling of the family name in church registers may be that of Elizabeth Severn. This was dated October 20th 1544, when she married Richard Marten, at Shrawley, in Worcestershire, during the reign of King Edward V111, known as "Bluff King Hal" 1509 - 1547. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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