Offen - what does Offen surname mean?

Recorded as Offen, Offin and Offing, this is a medieval surname and one with both English and Germanic origins. It is occupational and originally described a man who managed an iron smelting works (the oven). In the later Middle Ages the name came to describe both a smelting oven and the more common baking oven, one large enough for the whole village to bake their bread in. In both cases the early spelling was `ofen`, and whilst the surname form which developed was generally in the spelling of Oven if English, and Offen if German, both spellings appear in both countries. In Germany the name can also be a nickname for an honest person. This may also be associated with the bread making, as the `Offen` was empowered to extract payment for the use of the communal oven. Examples of the name recordings include: Brose Offen, who married Anna Langen at Konigsberg in Neumark, Wuertt, Germany, on September 22nd 1583, whilst in England, William Offen was christened at St. Botolph`s without Aldgate, London, on September 1st 1633, and Mary Offin, who married John Oxley at St Botolphs Bishopgate, on April 18th 1652. The coat of arms granted in Lippe, Germany, has the blazon of a gold field charged with a blue fesse and there on two gold baulks. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Attenovene. This was dated 1276, in the Assize Court rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as `The Hammer of the Scots`, 1272 - 1307. 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.

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