This is one of the patronymic forms of the male given name Steven or Stephen, itself deriving from the Greek "stephanos" meaning "crown" or "wreath". In ancient Greece athletic champions were crowned with a wreath of laurels in recognition of their victories, and, no doubt, many victors would have named their sons Stephanos to commemorate their achievements. This was a popular name throughout Christendom in the Middle Ages, having been borne by the first Christian martyr. The name was particularly appropriate in this instance as martyrdom was regarded by Christians as a victory. "Stefanus", the Latinized form of the name, is recorded without surname in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname first appears in the latter half of the 13th Century Robert Stephen (Cheshire, 1260) and Agnes Stiven (Berkshire, 1279). The patronymic forms Stevens and Stephens are recorded at that time also (see below). On March 22nd 1634, Robert Stevens, aged 22 yrs., embarked from London on the ship "Planter" bound for New England. He was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in America. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alice Stevenes, which was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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