This is a biblical surname, recorded in almost every part of Christendom. It derives from the Ancient Greek "Stefanos", meaning "The crown", a meaning which no doubt helped to contribute to its popularity. Not that it helped St Stephen. He was the first known Christian martyr, apparently stoned to death in Jerusalem only shortly after the death of the Christ. The name was popular in the early days of the Christian church, but only amongst monks, and then only as a "given name". It became much more popular after the religious revival of the 11th and 12th centuries, during which the famous crusades to "free the Holy Land" took place. The Crusades were largely based upon Greece and the Greek islands, these places such as Crete and Rhodes, being used as the headquarters for the eventual expeditions. Crusaders returning to the homes called their children by biblical or Greek names to commemorate the fathers pilgrimage or crusade. All European countries were partners in the crusades and as result the subsequent baptismal and later surnames swept across Europe. Examples of the "Stephanos" surname include Steven, Stephane, Etienne, Esteban, Stephanelli, Thevon, Stetsyuk, Stevenson, Stapian, Stefanovic, Stefankiewicx, and many, many, others. The first known recording of the surname in any spelling anywhere in the world is probably that of Roger Stefne, in the register of the abbey of Oseney, Oxfordshire, England, in the year 1283, or Thidericus Stephani of the city of Barth, germany, in the year 1337.
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