This interesting name has three possible origins, firstly it may be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic Irish 'O'an Chaintighe' which derives from 'cainteach' meaning satirical, hence, 'descendant of a satirist'. It is the name of a bardic family who came from West Cork. One Fearfasa O'Canty was a well known poet in the early 17th Century. In the census of 1659, the name Canty is given as one of the principal names in the barony of Kilnalmeaky, County Cork. The sept spread in to the neighbouring counties of Limerick and Kerry, where the name is now mainly found. Secondly, the name may be a Scottish diminutive form of the English name Cant, a metonymic occupational name for a singer in a chantry, or a nickname for a person who sang a lot. This meaning derives from the Old Norse French 'cant', song (Old French 'chant', singing). Thirdly, it may be a Scottish name of Flemish origin. The Exchequer Rolls for Scotland, in the 15th Century, record the family as being dealers in cloth, who supplied the King's household. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Michael Canty, which was dated 1659, Census for the Barony of Kinalmeaky, County Cork, during the reign of The Commonwealth, 1649-1660. 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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