This interesting surname has three distinct possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be of German origin, and is a diminutive of Hann, which derives from the German "hahn", cock, rooster, and would have been a nickname given to someone who strutted proudly, rose early or was a natural leader. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics. On December 28th 1585, Joannes, son of Martha Hannen, was christened at Bischofsdhron, Rheinland, Germany, and Margaretha Hannen was born in 1620, in Lubeck, Germany. Secondly, the surname may be a diminutive of Hannah, a medieval given name, from the Hebrew "Chana", meaning "He (God) has favoured me (with a child). The name is borne in the Bible by the mother of Samuel, and there is a tradition that it was the name of the mother of the Virgin Mary. On February 17th 1711, William, son of James and Mary Hannen, was christened at St. Andrew's, Holborn, London. Finally, the surname may be of Irish origin, and is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O h'Annaigh", composed of the elements "O", male descendant of, and "Annach", a byname meaning "Iniquity". The christening of John, son of Martin and Mary Hannen, took place on December 21st 1828, in Killarney, County Kerry. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sebastian Hanen, which was dated September 15th 1562, witness at the christening of his daughter, Anna, at Holzgerlingen, Neckarkreis, Wuertt, Germany, during the reign of Ferdinand 1, Habsburg Emperor, 1558 - 1564. 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.