The surname of VANCE 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. There are places of the name in Lincolnshire, and a small spot 'of Venn' in County Devon. Early records of the name mention Godwin de la Fenna, 1176, County Durham. Thomas atte Fenne was recorded in Wales in 1185, and Ralph de Fenne, 1190, London. John atte Venne, 1327, County Somerset. Simon Ven, alias Fen 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.
At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield or in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. 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.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
Registered at Ispwich, County Suffolk.
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