This curious and interesting surname is of early medieval French origin, and is a variant of the surname Blain, from "Belin", a hypocoristic form of "Belier", which derives from the Middle French "belire", a male sheep, a ram. Hence, the name was originally a nickname for someone who bore a fancied resemblance to a ram, or who was said to have some of its characteristics. Thus the surname reached its present spelling after a number of changes from the original form, Beliere to Belin, Blin, Blain to Blann. A beliere was also an important weapon of war in medieval times, as it can also mean a "battering ram", used to break sieges. In France the name is often found with the French definite article "le, la" (as seen in the first recording below). Early examples include: the christening of Alice, daughter of Thomas Blann, on March 6th 1610, at St. Andrew's, Holborn, London; the christening of Francois Blan's son on March 16th 1617, at Serraval, Haute-Savoie, France; and the marriage of Elizabeth Blan and Joseph Cleydon on May 8th 1715, at Banbury in Oxfordshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gabriel Leblan, which was dated December 1558, christened at Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, France, during the reign of King Henry 11 of France, 1547 - 1559. 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.