This English and Scottish surname of WANN is of two-fold origin. It was a baptismal name 'the son of WAN', or it was a nickname 'one with a wan, pale complexion'. The name is also spelt WANS, WAN, WANNE, WAND, WANDS and WANDE. Nicknames usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Johannes dictus WAN, who was the canon of Holyrood, Edinburgh in the year 1406, and Robert WAN was the burgess of Aberdeen in 1411. William WANE appears as burgess of Glasgow in 1433. Schir James WAN was declared innocent of any part of the detention of King James III in Edinburgh Castle in 1482, and Martin WAN was the chancellor of the diocese of Glasgow in 1496. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. Later instances of the name include John WANN, who was the bailie of the burgh of Dumbarton in 1500, and Adam WANE held land in Adamhill, Lanarkshire in the same year. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. 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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