This unusual and interesting surname is of Norman (French) origin, and was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. It is a topographical name denoting residence near a conspicuous oak tree or in an oak forest, derived from the Old French word "chesne", meaning "oak (tree)", from the Latin "caxinus", a variant of "cassanus", "oak". Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages.Sometimes the name may have been used as a nickname for someone thought to have "a heart of oak". After the first recording of the name in 1086, as below, a great many variant forms developed such as Cheyne, Cheyney, Chaney, Cheenay, Chesnay, and particularly in Suffolk and Norfolk, Chenery and Chinnery. One Henry Chenery is recorded as Mayor of Lynn Regis in Norfolk in 1682. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Radulfus de Caisned, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Sussex, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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.
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