This unusual English name recorded as Dorn, Dornan, Dornin, Dorning, Dornon, Dornell and possibly others, is probably residential and either locational or topographical. It so it derives from the pre 7th century word "torn". translating as thorn and locationally is found in various village names such as Thorne in Somerset or Thorns in Suffolk. The translation is literally a hedge of thorn bushes, but the actual meaning was a defensive hedge planted around the village both to keep the cattle and sheep in at night, and the local bandits and vagabonds out! Later when surnames began to be used in the late Medieval period from about the 14th century locational names were often given to those who had left their original home village, to live or work in another town or village. The first recording of the surname was that of William Thorn, in the famous charters known as the Curia Reggis rolls of Sussex, in 1206. It is unclear when the dialectal form of Dorn and its diminutives were first recorded, but Edward Dornon was recorded at St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, in the city of London, on November 15th 1629, whilst in 1680 the list of inhabitants of the parish of Christchurch in the Barbadoes showed John Dorn as owning fifty six acres of land, two servants and thirty one negroes. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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