This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name thought to derive from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from maps in Britain. The original place, believed to have been located in Devon, was probably composed of a shortened form of the Olde English personal name "Waendel", or the Olde English "fen", fen, marsh, the second element being "stan", the Olde English word for "stone" or meeting place. The prime cause of the disappearance of villages was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century. Natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348 also contributed to this lost village phenomenon. In some instances, the surname may be a variant of "Wanstone" from a place near Dover in Kent. On May 4th 1598, Priscilla daughter of Matthew Vanston was christened at High Bickington in Devon, while John Vanstonne married Marye Hartnall on October 18th 1607 at Shirwell in Devon. Dorothie Vanstone married Robert Danyell on July 7th 1612 at Colyton, Devonshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Joanna Vanston, which was dated 1551, marriage to Alexander Ford at Roborough by Torrington, Devon, during the reign of King Edward V1, "The Boy King" (1547-1553). 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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