This interesting surname has two origins. Firstly, it can be a German topographical name for someone who lived in a forest, deriving from the Germanic "tann" - forest. This originally was a distinct word from "Tanne" meaning "pinetree", and denoted a forest of any kind. Inevitably, however, the two became confused, with the result that "tann" now denotes only coniferous forests. It is a rather rare and literary word. Secondly, it can be of English origin, being an occupational name, a variant of Tanner, which derives from the middle English "tanner" (old English pre 7th Century "tannere") meaning "tanner" hence "a tanner of skins". The surname dates back to the late 13th Century, (see below). Further recordings include William de Tan (1273), "The Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire", and Adam Tan, "The Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire". Cornelius Tanse was christened at St. Ann, Blackfriars, London on November 10th 1585, and Edmund Tann married Jane Woodward on August 20th 1600 at All Hallows London Wall, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey de Tan, which was dated 1273, The Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, "The Frenchman", 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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