The surname of JENNISON was a baptismal name 'the son of Jenin' an ancient font name. Family names are a fashion we have inherited from the times of the Crusades in Europe, when knights identified one another by adding their place of birth to their first or Christian names. With so many knights, this was a very practical step. In the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries the nobles and upper classes, particularly those descended from the knights of the Crusades, recognised the prestige an extra name afforded them, and added the surname to the simple name given to them at birth. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that is became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. Early records mention Willelmus Gyneson, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Edward Jenson appears in County Lancashire during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Later instances of the name mention Robert Genyson who was documented in the year 1485 in County Yorkshire and William Jenyson was recorded in 1518 in the County of Yorkshire. John Jennyson married Mary Reading at Canterbury, Kent in the year 1666. This name has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe, being given in honour of St. John, the Baptist, precurser 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. Some of the principal forms of the name in other European languages are Evan, Ioan, Sean, Johann, Hans, Jan, Jean, Giovanni, Giannai, Vanni, Juan and Ivan.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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