Recorded in many forms including Fain, Fane, Fayne, Faynes, Vain, Vaines, Vanes, Vayne, Vian, Viance, Viant and probably others, this is a famous and noble English surname. However its origins are at best very confused, and from several sources including possibly France and Wales. The first and most likely source is that it was originally a nickname for a "well disposed person". As such this was a derivative of the Old English pre 7th century word "foegen", the Middle English 12th century "fein or fayn", and according to the New English Dictionary of 1883 quoting from an Elizabethan source "Fayne promys makyth folys Fayne", which roughly translates as a person permanently opposed to fools! The word as Fayn was also used as a given name in the Middle Ages and there is also a slight chance that for some nameholders it derives from the Welsh word "fain", meaning slender.However to add to the confusion there is also a place in La Manche, Normandy called "Vains", and it is probable that some namebearers are from this locational source, and may well have come over with the Normans in the invasion of 1066. It is said that Sir John Vane who was knighted at the battle of Poitiers, wrote his name as Fane on his will dated April 16th 1488. He was the ancestor of the Vane family, Earls of Darlington, and the Fane family, Earls of Westmorland! The first recorded spelling of the family name is possibly that of William le Vain. This was dated 1242, in the tax rolls of the county of Worcestershire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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