This rare and but famous surname is early medieval English but of French origin. Probably introduced by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, it is a good example of that large group of early surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of a nickname. In this instance it was given to someone admired for his good sense or skill, or perhaps one noted for elegance and fine dress. The derivation is from the pre 10th century Old French term "quointe", itself a derivative of the Latin "cognitus", and used also in the active sense of "knowing or clever".The English word as "quant" gradually acquired the sense of skilfully made, and this also eventually developed into the modern form of "quaint", meaning "pleasantly unusual". Amongst the early recordings of the surname in surviving records are those of Richard le Queynte in the list of holders of seals for the county of Hampshire in 1263, whi;lst later in Stuart times and in the registers of the diocese of Greater London we have the example of the marriage of Edward Quant and Mariam Swithin, at St. Martins-in- the-Fields, Westminster, on May 21st 1676. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William le Qwointe. This was dated 1254, in the chartulary of the monastery of Ramsey, in Bedfordshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd 1216 - 1272. 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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