This most interesting surname is of Old Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may be of topographical origin for a "dweller by the thorn-bush(es)", from the Old Norse, Olde English "thorn", a thorn-bush or hedge, with the suffix "-s", of that place. However, Thorns could also be of locational origin, from any of the places called Thorne in Somerset, which was recorded as "Torne" in the Domesday Book of 1086; or Thorns in Suffolk; these places are named with the same element as above. The surname itself first appears in the early 13th Century (see below), while other early examples of the surname include Magges de Thornes, in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, Yorkshire (1275); William del Thorn, in the Book of Ely, Suffolk; and Richard atte Thorn in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls (1296). Recordings of the surname from Yorkshire Church Registers include the marriage of John Thorns and Alice Battersbye, at Gargrave, on February 6th 1573, and the christening of Jacobus, son of Thomas Thorns, on November 1st 1580, at Gisburn. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Thorn, which was dated 1206, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 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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