Recorded as Kain, Kane, Kann, and Kayne, this interesting surname is regarded as English, but has several possible origins. Firstly, it may be of Old French origin, either a nickname for a tall, thin man, as some fifteen percent of all surnames are known to come from a nickname source. Secondly it may be an occupational name for a reed weaver or even a reed merchant, one who sold reeds used for thatching, flooring and basket weaving. In both cases the derivation is from the word "cane", meaning reed. Thirdly it may be locational and again French, and describe a former inhabitant of the town of Caen, in Normandy. Meaning "Battlefield", it is named from the "fused" 6th century Gaulish elements "catu" (battle), and "magos", a field. Lastly the name may be of Welsh origin, deriving from the male given name "Cain" or the female "Keina", both meaning "good looking", or perhaps as a short form of other Welsh personal names as Ceindrych or Ceinwen. Early examples of the surname recording in the surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London include the marriage of Michael Cain to Rebecca Chapell, on February 2nd 1600, at St. Bride's, Fleet Street, and that of Mary Kann, the daughter of Joseph Kann, who was christened at St Benets church, Pauls Wharf, on October 23rd 1692. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godfrey Kein. This was dated 1198, in the register of the abbey of Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk", during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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