Recorded in several forms including Wan, which appears now to be totally obselete, Wann, Wanne, the very rare Whan, the patronymic Wannes and Wanes, the diminutives Wanell, Wannell, Wanniel, and Wonnell, this interesting name is of English origins. The origin is obscure, but the best suggestion would seem to be that It derives from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'wann' meaning pale. As such it may have been an ethnic name used by the native English to distinguish Anglo-Saxons or even Vikings, who were much paler skinned. On the other hand it could be a nickname for a pale person, or given medieval humour, the complete opposite! There is a second possibility for some nameholders that it may be locational from Winnall, a village in the county of Herefordshire. In that case the place name means 'Willow valley'. Amongst early recordings of the surname in the surviving church registers of the city of London are Francis Wan or Wans, who married Richard Mayne on August 4th 1588 at the church of St Giles Cripplegate, Francis Wannell who was christened at the church of St Lawrence Jewry, on March 13th 1591, John Wann and his wife Tabitha, who were christening witnesses at St James Clerkenwell on September 12th 1658. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Warner Wan. This is in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1297, during the reign of King Edward 1st, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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