This ancient surname, originally popular in Cornwall, is a development of the medieval given name 'Vivianus', of Roman (Latin) origins. Introduced into England by the Normans after the 1066 Invasion, 'Vivianus' formed the basis for a surprisingly wide variety of modern surnames, including Videan, Vidgen, Vidgeon, Fiddian, Fidgeon and Phythian. The original meaning is 'alive' or 'living', perhaps a commentary on the birth survival rate of the early times. St. Vivianus was the bishop of Saintes, in France in the 5th century, but the name did not achieve popularity until much later. Early recordings include Johannes filius Viuian in the 1175 ipe Rolls of Kent, John Vivyan in the 1275 Hundred Rolls of Hampshire, and William Phythien, who appears in the Cartulary of Ramsey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (circa 1250). John Fivian is noted in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire in 1279, whilst John Vyvyan is recorded in the Sussex County Subsidy Rolls of 1296. Later church recordings include Emblen, the daughter of Thomas Vivian of St Columb Major, Cornwall, christened there in 1544, whilst Henry Vivian of Merionethshire, Wales, was a student at Oxford University in 1586. Other examples showing variant spellings include on November 28th 1689, Mary, daughter of David and Elizabeth Phythian, who was christened at St. Andrews church, Holborn, London, and Peter Phythyan who married Jane Green on February 3rd 1696, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster. The coat of arms granted in Bodmin, Cornwall, in 1507, has the blazon of a gold field, a blue chevron between three lions heads erased in purple, a chief in red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Vivien, which was dated 1235, the Stone Cartulary, Staffordshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. 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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