This ancient surname, of early French origins, is described as "arbuste epineux", a nickname description which literally translates as "the small thorny bush". It was applied to someone of "prickly" character, but may have had a more definite meaning in the medieval period, when robust humour was very acceptable. The name is quite rare in any form, but is found in the spellings of Espinet, Epinay, Epinoy, Epine, Le Pine, Delepine and Espine. It has also been suggested that the name may be a nickname for "a spy", from "espionier", and in some cases this is probably true. The Coat of Arms is a red fesse on a white shield, overall and a black lion rampant regardant. Examples of the name recording, in varying spellings, include: Claude Espinoy, in Paris, in 1638; Michelle Lespine, who married Pierre Fiquet at Rumigny, Ardenne, in 1632; Jean Epinet, of Bard, Loire, in 1689; Julien Lepinay, of Nantes, in 1672; and Didier Epinot, of Benney, Meurthe-et-Moselle, on August 17th 1647. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Louis Delespine, which was dated August 1st 1545, a witness at the Church of St. Florentine, at Amboise, Seine-et-Oise, France, during the reign of King Francis 1 of the House of Valois, 1515 - 1547. 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.