This interesting and unusual surname can be either English or Scottish in origin. As an English surname it is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a status or occupational term deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "theg(e)n", Middle English "thayn", meaning a noble retainer or attendant, also a tenant by military service. The surname is first recorded in England in the latter half of the 12th Century (see below). Geoffrey le Thein is listed in the Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire (1199) and Adam Thein is registered in Suffolk (1221). In Scotland the term was used in the later Middle Ages to denote someone who held land directly from the king. It may also be of Scottish locational origin, from Tain in Easter Ross, which was recorded in 1255 as "Thayne" and in 1483 as "Thane". In Scotland the first recording of the surname is in 1222, when one Lorne Theine de Ures witnessed a charter by Randulf de Strathphetham. The surname is also found in the variant spellings Thaine and Thayne. Amongst the recorded examples in London is one Susanna Thain who married John Tesdale on July 10th 1703 at the church of St. Christopher le Stocks. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Tein, which was dated 1166, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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