This interesting and unusual name is of Norman (French) origin, introduced into Britain after the Conquest of 1066, and quickly adopted in both England and Scotland, as either Cant, Caunt or Chant. The name is either a metonymic occupational surname for a singer in a chantry, or a nickname for someone noted for singing frequently. The derivation is from the Old Norman French "cant", song, in Old French "chant", from the Latin "cant(or)", singer, and other modern surnames from the same source include Canter, Cantor, Caunter, Kanter and Changer. In Scotland the surname "Cant" is first recorded in 1376, when William Cant apepars as a tenant of the Douglases in Telny, Fifeshire. One Richard Caunt was an early emigrant to the New World, leaving London on the "Safety" in August 1635, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Caunt, which was dated 1357, in the "Fines Court Rolls of Huntingdonshire", 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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