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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


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It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Gayn are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Gayn include Engain, Gain, Gayn, Gaines, Ingain, Engham, Engaine, D'Engain, D'Engayne, Engame, Engam, Gayne, Gayn, Gaynes, Angain, Gayney, Dengaine, Dengayne, Dangain, D'Angain, Gagne, Ingen and many more.

First found in Huntingdonshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having prevailed over King Harold, granted most of Britain to his many victorious Barons. It was not uncommon to find a Baron, or a Bishop, with 60 or more Lordships scattered throughout the country. These he gave to his sons, nephews and other junior lines of his family and they became known as under-tenants. They adopted the Norman system of surnames which identified the under-tenant with his holdings so as to distinguish him from the senior stem of the family. After many rebellious wars between his Barons, Duke William, commissioned a census of all England to determine in 1086, settling once and for all, who held which land. He called the census the Domesday Book, [1] indicating that those holders registered would hold the land until the end of time. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands of Redinger held by Richard d'Engaine who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086. Richard was of Engen near Boulogne and accompanied the Conqueror at Hastings. Vitalis, his son, married the daughter of the Earl of Oxford, Alberic de Ver. It is apparent that the main line of the family were one of the rebellious barons for the next we hear is of Vitalis and Richard in Northumberland in 1130. Ralph Engaine held estates in Cumberland in 1158. Some lines of the family continued in Gloucestershire, Suffolk and Devon where Richard Ingayn held in 1310.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gayn research. Another 284 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1124, 1299, 1346, 1347, and 1380 are included under the topic Early Gayn History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Gayn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Gayn, or a variant listed above: Bernard Gaines who arrived in Virginia in 1654; Roger Gain who settled in Virginia in 1658; David Gaines who arrived in Nevis in 1663; Patrick Gain who settled in Missouri in 1840.

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  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  2. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  3. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  4. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  6. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  7. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  8. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  9. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  10. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  11. ...

The Gayn Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gayn Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 21 February 2011 at 15:26.

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