This surname VANKEEV was originally derived from the Hebrew given name YOCJANAN (Jehovah has favoured me with a son), and the name was adopted into the Latin (via Greek) as JOHANNES. This name has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe, being given in honour of St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ and of St. John the Evangelist, author of the fourth gospel, as well as others of the nearly one thousand saints of the name. There are numerous variant spellings of the surname, and it is known to every country in the world in different forms. There have been many notables of the name including twenty-one popes and two anti-popes XVI (997-8) and XXIII the former included in the papal numbering, which erroneously contained a fictitious John XV who was thought to have ruled for a few weeks immediately prior to the true John (985-96). John (surnamed Lackland) 1167-1216 was the king of England from 1199 youngest son of Henry II born in Oxford. He attempted to seize the crown during Richard I's captivity in Austria, but was pardoned and nominated his successor by his brother on his deathbed. He was crowned at Westminster on 27th May 1199. He alienated barons by bad administration and heavy taxation and was forced to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymeade on 15th June 1215. It was also the name of two kings of France John I (1316) who lived only seven days, and John II (1319-64) taken prisoner at Poitiers by the Black Prince, returned to captivity in England when he could not raise ransom money agreed upon, and died in London. Don John (1545-78) was the natural son of emperor Charles V. He commanded the fleet of victory of Lepanto, over the Turkish fleet, and was governor-general of the Netherlands in 1576-8.
John Sobieski (1624-96) was the King of Poland, National hero and elected as John III, in 1764 he recovered the greater part of the Ukraine from the Turks. The earliest Polish surnames were patronymic. The personal names from which they were derived were mainly Slavonic, but as the Middle Ages progressed, traditional Slavic given names, began to give way to saint's names, mainly of Latin origin. Surnames derived from Slavonic personal names are of early origin, and tend to be borne by aristocratic families.
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