This most interesting and unusual surname of English origin is a topographical name given to a person who lived in a low-lying marshy area. The surname is composed of the Anglo-Saxon word "fenn", a marsh or bog, plus "-ing", an Anglo-Saxon ending, which indicates "a dweller at", and "-s", a genitive ending meaning "of that place". Due to differences in pronunciation the "f" became a "v" in the south-western counties. The initial root of this surname (Venn) was first recorded in 1328, when John atte (at the) Venn appeared in Kirby's Quest for Somerset. The surname itself first appears in the early 17th Century (see below). Sara Vennyn, daughter of George Vennyn was christened at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London on April 12th 1612. Walter Venning (1781 - 1821) was a London merchant who advocated prison reform. One John Durrant Vennings was christened on June 4th 1779, at Carter Lane, Blackfriars, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gregory Venninge, (marriage to Elizabeth Stephens), which was dated October 22nd 1610 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, during the reign of King James 1st of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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