This most interesting surname, found in England and Ireland, is a habitational name from either Epaignes in Eure, France, so called because it was established by colonists from Spain in Roman times, or from Espinay in Ille-de-Vilaine, Brittany, from the Old French word "espine", a thorn bush. In Ireland the name appears to have been acquired by a person who lived in Spain for a period, as important historical and trading links existed between Irish coastal towns, especially in the south west, and Spain. The surname first appears in the late 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Thomas Spane, who appeared in the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire in 1302; Thomas de Spaigne, who was recorded in the Calendar of Letter Books of London, dated 1318; and John Spayne, who was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1327. Alueredus de Hispania, who appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086, came from Espaignes. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Anne Spaine at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, on December 30th 1579, and the marriage of Mary Spain and Walter Herbart at Christ Church, Newgate, on December 25th 1697. A Coat of Arms was granted to a Spain family who resided in Essex, which is described thus: "Quarterly, green and gold, over all a baton of the second". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Espaigne, which was dated 1179, in the "Pipe Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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