Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. This English nickname FAIN was originally from the Middle English word 'fein' meaning glad, and was occasionally used as a given name in medieval times. A family by the name of VANE trace their descent from John Vane or Fane, who died in 1554. Another branch of the family were descended from the same man, and they spell their name FANE; they hold the earldom of Westmorland. Some Vanes were recorded in Kent in 1426, but a family tradition that they were originally from Monmouth cannot be confirmed. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
Early records of the name also mention William le Vain, who was documented in the year 1242, and Robert Fane appears in 1279 in Cambridge and Richard le Feyn was recorded in 1378, County Cornwall. William Fane was documented in County Somerset in the year 1400.
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