This interesting surname is of Old French origin, introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It derives from the Old French "auenant", present participle of "avenir", to arrive, happen, benefit, become, suitable. It was also used as a personal name to describe a handsome, comely person, and an Avenant de Twipp was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire in 1204. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of features such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. Recordings from Devonshire Church Registers include: the christening of Gregorie, son of Gregorie Avent, on November 5th 1592, at Stoke in Teignhead, and the christening of Grace, daughter of Robert Avent, on September 22nd 1605, at Yealmpton. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert Avenant, which was dated 1156 - 1180, in the "Feudal Documents of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds", London, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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