This Swedish, German and English surname of VAN VEEN was a locational name 'the dweller at the fen' from residence beside the meadows or low and marshy tract of land. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name has travelled widely and has numerous variant spellings which include FENNE, FENN, VENN, AVANN, FENNING, VEENSTRA, VENEMA, Vam de VEN, VEEN and VEENMAN. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America. Early records of the name in England mention Godwin de la FENNA who was documented in the year 1176 in County Devon and John atte FEN was the bailiff of Yarmouth in 1377. Edward FENNE of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Julian atte FEN was mentioned in the Household Book of Queen Isabelle in 1358. Later instances of the name include Simon VEN (alias FEN) who was documented in London in 1580. John VEN (draper) and Ellinor Clarke were married in London in the year 1594. Richard VENNE of County Devon, registered at Oxford University in 1619. Ambrose VENN and Eleanor Nottingham were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1657. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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