Recorded in many spelling forms including Cancelier and Chancelier (France), Chancellor, Chancellar and Cancellor (England and Scotland), Cancellario and Cancellieri (Italy), and Canceller and Kanzler (Germany), this is one of the great status surnames of Europe. It was originally an occupational name for an adminstrator of the law court. The derivation being from the Roman (Latin) 'cancelli' meaning 'latice work'. In this context it described a grating behind which officials of the court sat, in order to divide them from the public. By the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 a.d., the term had come to mean a senior official, sometimes of the monarch, which in effect meant the government, or as the senior representative of a noble, or as a local civic official. Today in the 20th century, the post of Chancellor and its administrative equivalent 'Marshall', is only used for the great offices of state. There is a suggestion that in the medieval period of around the 14th century, the surname may in some cases, have been an occupational nickname for one who played the part of a Chancellor in the famous travelling theatres of those times. Early examples of the surname recording include: Reginald Canceler of Hertford in the 1086 Domesday Book of England, Heirich Cancellarious of Worms, Germany, in the year 1209, and Richard le Chaunceller in the 1214 Curia Regis rolls for the county of Berkshire.
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