This famous surname with spellings of Blanc, Leblanc, Blanche, (French), Blank (English & Dutch), Bianco, Lo Bianco, (Italian) Blanco, Bianca, (Spanish), Blanck, (German) Blank and Du Blank (Flemish) etc. derives strangely not from the Old French 'blanc', but from an old Frankish-German word of the same spelling dating back to the pre-5th century. The original precise meaning was 'bright or shining', although this seems to have gradually been changed to 'white' in France. As a result it is claimed that the name was then given as a nickname to someone with (prematurely) white hair or a pale complexion. This is arguably true, but it may also be a national reference, in that it the word may have been applied to 'Northmen', i.e. the fair haired, fair complexion, Viking invaders who swept down through Germany, and later into France in the 8th and 9th centuries, eventually settling in what is now 'Normandy', - the country of the 'Northmen'. The surname was first recorded in England towards the end of the 12th Century, (see below)and in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire in 1273, the name is recorded respectively as Blaunche and Blanche. The spelling 'Blank' appears in the 'Letter Books of Cambridgeshire' in 1293. An interesting recording is that of Elizabeth Blanch who on Julky 16th 1635, embarked from London on the ship, 'Alice' bound for Virginia. She was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to enter America. The blazon of the coat of arms has a red field, a cinquefoil pierced ermine, the Crest being a gold leopard's head guardant erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nigellus Blanke, which was dated 1196, in the Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'Richard the Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.