This ancient name is chiefly of Anglo-Saxon origin, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century “denu”, valley, in Middle English “dene”. The surname from this source may be either locational or topographical in origin; if the former, it derives from any one of the places named with this term, in, for example, Devonshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Lancashire and Sussex. Most of these places are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as “Dene”. As a topographical surname, Dean(e) was used to denote esidence in or near a valley, as in the following early examples of the name: William de la Dena (1193, Surrey); Simon in la Dene (1271, Somerset); and William atte Dene (1296, Sussex). The second possible derivation of the name is from the Old French “deien, dien”, dean (a term ultimately from the Latin “decanus”, “leader of ten men”), introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and borrowed into Middle English as “deen”. This was used as a nickname for someone thought to resemble a dean in behaviour, or as an occupational name for a servant of a dean; Geoffrey le Dean is recorded in Yorkshire in 1278. In London, the marriage of Thomas Deane and Katherin Marchant was recorded at St. Dunstan in the East, on July 22nd 1568. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts, on a blue shield, a red annulet on a gold bend. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de Dene, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Sussex, during the reign of King William 1, known as “William the Conqueror”, 1066 – 1087. 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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