This name is of English topographic origin for someone who lived by a marsh of fen. The name derives from the Old English pre 7th Century 'fenn', translating as 'a low-lying marshy area', and is first recorded at the end of the 12th Century, (see below). In 1292 one, Richard atte Vanne appears in 'The King's Rolls at Wiltshire'. In medieval English dialects as the south west 'v' was regarded as the normal pronunciation of 'f'. The farms with an initial 'Fa' represents the East Saxon form of 'fenn'. In the 'modern' idiom the name has seven spelling variations: Fann, Van(n), Vanne, Vanns, Vance and Venn. Alfred Glenville Vance (1838 - 1888), known as 'the great Vance', was an actor and pantomimist who made his mark in London music - halls. He died while performing at Knightsbridge. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John del Fan, which was dated 199 - The Pipe Rolls of Essex, during the reign of King Richard 1, 'Richard The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. 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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