This is a Dutch surname, which may have been either job descriptive or a nickname. Recorded in several spellings including Vaan, De Vaan, Vaen, and De Vaen, it derives from the medieval word 'vaan' meaning a flag or banner. This suggests that it was either a metonymic for a maker of of banners, or may it may have been a status word to describe a person who carried a banner in the famous pageants or processions of the Middle Ages. Prepositions relating to surnames have been almost entirely lost in English speaking countries, but remain as a major part of the Dutch etymology. The preposition 'de' in Dutch means 'the', and unlike the French 'de' (of) does not usually imply nobility or the land owner class. When associated with 'van' as in 'Van de Berg' for example, it is more akin to the French form. In this case it suggests that the name means 'Jan, the banner maker' as in the example recording of Jan Gerritz de Vaen of Utrecht, on September 29th 1660. Other recordings taken from authentic surviving church registers include: Jacob de Vaan, the son of Gerrid de Vaan, at Oude-Schild, Nord Holland, on June 19th 1746, and Jan Vaan, who married Catharina Schippes at Wolfaartsdijk, Zeeland, on January 4th 1784.
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