This interesting and unusual surname is of Old French origin, and is a metonymic occupational name for a singer in a chantry, a chorister or precentor. The derivation is from the Old Norman-French "cant", Old French "chant", singing, song. Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Early examples of the surname include: Richard Caunt (Huntingdonshire, 1357); William Cant, a tenant under the Douglases in the barony of Aberdoure, Fifeshire, 1376; and Richard Cante, noted in the Register of Arbroath Abbey, Scotland, 1485. In the modern idiom the name has three variant spellings Cant, Chaunt and Chant. On June 10th 1576, Margaret Chaunt and John Bowyer were married at St. Christopher le Stocks, London, and on July 14th 1689, Susana Chant married a Samuel Beer at St. Mary's, Marylebone Road, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Cante, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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