The surname of STEYNING was a baptismal name 'the son of Stening'. An old font name dating to the 12th century. The name was also a locational name from Steyning in Sussex, so called from the Old English word STOENINGAS, literally meaning 'the people of STAN'. The earliest of the name on record appears to be STAENINGUM (without surname) who was recorded in AD880, and ESTANINGAS (without surname) was recorded in 1085. William Steyning appears in County Sussex in 1273, and William Stening was documented in County Sussex in 1300. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
Other records of the name mention John Stenyning, County Somerset, 1327. Richard Gardiner married Margaret Stenning in Canterbury, Kent in 1665. Richard Vezey married Mary Stenning at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in 1755. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
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