Recorded in several spellings including Anan, Hanan, Hannan, Hannon, Honeen, Honan, and Oonian, this is an Irish surname, whilst as Onion, Onions and Union it can be either Irish or English. If the former the origination is the ancient Gaelic O' hUainin, meaning the male descendant of the green (man), and probably a reference to a holy man, one who wore a green cloak or cassock. The surname is widely recorded as is the surname of Greene. This is confused with the English Green or Greene, but was originally Honeen, until changed in the 17th century. The spelling as Union can either be from Honeen, or it can be an English settler name, dating in Ireland from about 1640. If the latter, the derivation is the early English and Welsh personal name Einion, meaning just and virtuous. Examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving registers of both Ireland and England include James Union christened at St Mary Whitechapel in the city of London, on July 6th 1585, Christopher Hanan of Tallow, County Waterford, on March 12th 1797, and Edward Honan, a famine emigrant who sailed on the ship Queen-of-the-West, of Liverpool, and bound for New York on August 15th 1846. We are unable to say when the name was first recorded in Ireland, as the registers were all lost in the civil war of 1922, when the IRA, in one of its periodical acts of violence, burnt the Public Records Office in Dublin. This contained all the country's priceless records back to the 9th century. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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