Show ContentsLanyen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The illustrious surname Lanyen is classified as a habitation surname, which was originally derived from a place-name, and is one form of surname belonging to a broader group called hereditary surnames. Habitation names were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Topographic names, form the other broad category of surnames that was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree.

Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. Lanyen is a place-name from in Lanyon, in Cornwall. This makes it a habitational name, which is a type of and is derived from an already existing place-name. There is little doubt that this family had their origin in Brittany; however, the Cornish place-name was in place long before this family came to England. However, it is quite possible that the place-name has similar roots in both Brittany and Cornwall, as the Cornish and Breton languages are quite similar.

Early Origins of the Lanyen family

The surname Lanyen was first found in Cornwall where they settled in Lanyon. They entered England with Queen Isabella, King Edward II's bride, from Brittany where they also held the lands of Lanyon. Another source claims that the name was in fact Norman having derived from the town of Lannion in Brittany. 1 In this case, they must have settled during the time of Edward II. Their estate was also named Lanyon.

"Another barton called Lanyon, [in the parish of Gwinear, Cornwall] took its name from a branch of an ancient family so called, and who continued to possess it from the reign of Edward II. until within a few years past. Hals, speaking of the family of Lanyon, says, that 'they came first into England with Isabel wife of Edward II. and settled themselves in those parts; among which, Lanyon's posterity have ever since flourished in genteel degree, between a justice of the peace, and a hundred constable.' About the year 1785, Lanyon was sold to the late John Thomas, Esq. of Tregolls. by whose sister it was carried in marriage to Admiral Spry, whose property it still remains. The elder branch of the Lanyon family is become extinct; but the descendants of the younger still continue. Of this younger branch Mr. Tobias Lanyon, surgeon of Camborne, is the present representative; by whose younger brothers the estate is still occupied." 2

Early History of the Lanyen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lanyen research. Another 156 words (11 lines of text) covering the year 1765 is included under the topic Early Lanyen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lanyen Spelling Variations

Since the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules, Breton surnames have many spelling variations. Latin and French, which were the official court languages, were also influential on the spelling of surnames. The spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. Therefore, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England after the Norman Conquest, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. The name has been spelled Lannyon, Lanyon, Lanyan, Lannyan, Lanion, Lannion, Lanine and many more.

Early Notables of the Lanyen family

More information is included under the topic Early Lanyen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Lanyen family

Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Lanyen, or a variant listed above: T. Lanyan who settled in New York State in 1823; Thomas James Lanyon, who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1831; A.C. Lannean who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1874..

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print on Facebook