Tench is of French origins, and is first recorded in Lincolnshire (see below). Traditional research suggested that it was a nickname for a rather "sleek" person, however logical analysis would infer that the name is metonymic for a keeper of fish, specifically Tench Fish farming was a popular medieval occupation, all the large houses and particularly monasteries had large fish ponds, and the tench with its ability to grow quickly, was a popular species. Whatever the origin the holders found it no bar to their progress, John Tench of London being granted arms by Charles 1 in 1626, whilst Sir Francis Tench of Leyton in Essex, was High Sheriff there in the year 1712. Watkin Tench (1759-1833) was a Lieutenant in the British Forces in the American War of Independence, being taken prisoner. Clearly his luck was out because no sooner had the Americans released him when he was captured by the French in 1794! However by 1811 he was a Major General and an Author. Clearly a man of considerable talent. Early recordings include William Tenche of Warwick in 1197, Wyllyam Tenche who married Joan Eaton at St. Dionis church, London on July 1st 1599 and James Tench, who married Mary Eyres by civil licence in London in 1618. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan Tenche, which was dated 1193, in the Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1199 - 1216. 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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