Recorded as Blanch, Blanche, Blank, Blanke, the diminutives Blanchette, Blanchet, Blanket, Blankett, Blunkett and others, this is an English surname but one of pre 9th century Old French origins. It derives from the word "blanc" meaning white, and it may either have been ethnic, and describe a Scandanavian Viking, in which case it was not necessarily complimentary, or it was given as a baptismal name of endearment to a child someone with fair hair or complexion. The surname is first recorded in England towards the end of the 12th Century, (see below), and other early recordings include Robert Blanket in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcester in 1275, and John Blanchett in the same rolls but in 1365. Other recordings include that on July 13th 1635, of Elizabeth Blanch who embarked from London on the ship "Alice," bound for Virginia. She the earliest recorded namebearer to enter America. The first recorded spelling of the family name in any form is shown to be that of Nigellus Blanke. This was dated 1196, in the Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known to history as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.