This rather unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from a place in Sussex called Steyning. Recorded variously as "(aet) Staeningum", circa 880, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; as "Estaninges" in Documents preserved in France, dated 1085; and as "Staninges" in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Stainingas", translating as "the dwellers at (ingas) the Stone (stan)". The first element may also be the Olde English male personal name "Stan", with "ingas", in this case, meaning "the dependants or people of". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. This surname, with recorded spellings of Stenyny, Stening, Stenning, Stennings, and Steanyng, is however particularly well recorded in the church registers of the county of Sussex, suggesting that most nameholders derive from the original Lord of the Manor of Steyning. Examples of the name recordings taken from the earliest church registers of the 16th century, and specifically that of the village of Rudgwick, Sussex, include Tomas, son of John Stenying, christened at Rudgwick parish church, on March 15th 1542, and on March 11th 1585, Sara Steanyn, was christened at the same church. Thomas Stenning was also christened at Rudgwick on February 10th 1621 whilst Margaret Stennings was married to Richard Gardiner at Canterbury, Kent on July 1st 1665. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Steyng, which was dated 1327, in the rolls of Somerset, known as 'Kirby's Quest', during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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