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. The surname, with variant spellings Stenyny, Stening and Steanyng, is particularly well recorded in Church Registers of Rudgwick, Sussex, from the mid 16th Century (see below): on March 16th 1542, Tomas, son of John Stenying, was christened in that parish, and on March 11th 1585, Sara Steanyn, an infant, was christened there also. The christening of one Thomas Stenning took place in Rudgwick, on February 10th 1621. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Stening, which was dated September 29th 1539, marriage to Ysbell (surname not noted), at Rudgwick, Sussex, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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