This early surname is from the English-Scottish border country, where it was very prominent over many centuries. It is locational and derives either from the villages of Fenwick in Northumberland, near Kylow and Stamfordham, or if Scottish from the village of Fenwick in the county of Ayrshire. There is also a village called Fenwick in the West Riding of Yorkshire, but it is unclear whether this produced any surname holders. What is ceratin is that with all the villages names and hence the surname, the translation is the same. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wic" meaning a dwelling place, or a dairy farm, or sometimes a landing place. To this prefix is added "fen" meaning a marshland, or water meadow. The surname is first recorded on the Scottish side of the "Border Country", (see below), and almost all early surname recordings are from this region. These early recordings include Thomas de Fenwyk, a witness at the 1279 Assize Court of Northumberland, and Nicholas Fynwik, who was the provost of Ayr, Scotland, in 1313. Sir John Fenwick, born in 1579, was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1658, in the 'reign' of Oliver Cromwell. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Ffenwic, which was dated c.1220, a charter witness in the rolls of the Abbey of Kelso, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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.