This very unusual and ancient surname found in the spellings, Tarn, Tern(e), Turn, Torn(s), etc, is of Olde English pre 7th century origins. It derives from the word 'terne' which describes a small lake or pool, and as such means one who was resident by such a place. The earliest recording (see below) is in the far north of England, and it is in that area and Scotland where the descriptive word is still used. As the surname travelled south it was changed by a combination of poor spelling and local dialects to the various forms now recorded.In fact it is in London that the coat of arms was granted, the precise date is not known but it is probably circa 1700. The blazon is a blue field, charged with a gold fesse, and in chief three anchors, also gold. This suggests that the holder was a successful mariner or merchant. Examples of the surname recording include Margaret Torn who married Edward Huigson on May 18th 1600, at the church of St Margaret Somerset, London, and Elizabeth, daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Turn, who was christened at the famous church of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on October 7th 1660. The plural form as in Thomas Torns, is recorded at All Hallows Church, London Wall, on April 23rd 1702. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo de Tern, which was dated 1332, in the Curia Regis Rolls of Cumberland, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as 'The father of the English 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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