This rare and unusual surname is a transposed form of Capenhurst, which is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from a place so called in Cheshire. The placename is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "cape", lookout place, which is from the Old English "cupian", to look, peer, and the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "hurst", hill, from the Old English "hyrst", thus, "the lookout place on the hill". The placename was first recorded as "capeles" in the Domesday Book of 1086. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace.The modern surname can be found as Capenhurst, Caponhurst and Copenhurst, while the transposed forms include, Capnerhurst, Capnorhurst and Capnirhurst; Capnerhurst can only be found recorded in Warwickshire. Among the sample recordings in Warwickshire are the marriages of Joseph Capnerhurst and Mary Boston on August 13th 1787 at St. John, Coventry, and of John Capnerhurst and Elizabeth Buswell on April 15th 1790 at Nuneaton. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Caponhurste, (marriage to Richard Jesson), which was dated 1566, Tamworth, Staffordshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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