This surname JENYN was a baptismal name 'the son of John' an old and popular font name. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Early records of the name mention Janyn le Breton of the County of Lancashire in 1332. Jenyn de Fraune of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Jenyn de Fraunce, ibid. John Jenens, citizen of Oxford, was registered at Oxford University in 1573. Ralph Jenyngs of Chester, was documented in the Wills at Chester in 1610. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. A notable member of the name was Sarah Jennings, an attendant and a close friend of Queen Anne who had a clandestine marriage in 1677 to John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough. This enhanced his prospects in promotion and prestige with the royal family. In 1702 Anne was made Groom of the Stole, Mistress of the Robes and Keeper of the Privy Purse. After the Dukes death Sarah spent the rest of her life renovating and restoring the palace at Blenheim and editing her own, and her husbands, papers for publication.
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