Recorded in many spellings as shown below, this interesting and unusual name is of Norman -French origins. Introduced into Britain after the Conquest of 1066, and quickly adopted in both England and Scotland, as Cant, Caunt, or even Chant, the surname is a metonymic occupational surname for a singer in a chantry. The derivation is from the pre 8th century word "cant", meaning a song, from the Latin "cantor", a singer, and other surnames spellings from the same source include Canter, Cantor, Caunter, Kanter and Changer.In Scotland the surname is first recorded in 1376, when William Cant apears as a tenant of the Clan Douglas in Telny, Fifeshire, whist Richard Caunter was an early emigrant to the New World, leaving London on the ship "Safety" in August 1635, bound for Virginia. However it is not known whether he did arrive 'safely' although the suname is now popular in the United States. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Caunt. This was dated 1357, in the Fines Court rolls of Huntingdonshire, during the reign of King Edward 111rd, and known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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