This most interesting and unusual surname is of early medieval English and Old French origin, from the Middle English word "spinney", a small wood or copse, deriving from the Old French "espinel", ultimately from the Latin "spina", a thorn-bush. Hence the surname was used as a topographical name for a dweller by a small wood or patch of thorn bushes. In some instances, the name may also be of English locational origin, from either Spinney Hills in the city of Leicester, or Spinney Abbey in Cambridgeshire, which was recorded in 1254 as "Spinnetum" in the "Valuation of Norwich"; both places are named from the same derivation as mentioned above. Early examples of the surname include the marriage of John Spiney and Christian James on November 16th 1565, at Piddlehinton, Dorset; the christening of William Spinneye on November 11th 1587, at Sturminster Marshall, Dorset; and the marriage of Susanna Spinney and William Stevens on June 1st 1766, at St. Leonard's Church, Shoreditch, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Judeth Speny, which was dated March 1st 1562, in the Church Registers of St. John's, Hackney, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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