This unusual and interesting surname is of early medieval and French origin, and is a nickname for an "accuser, plaintiff or claimant", perhaps one who was somewhat belligerent, or maybe used in the same sense as a champion. The derivation is from the Old French "chalonger", with the middle English development "chalangen", meaning to challenge. This name is an example of that sizable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames, which were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes, mental and moral characteristics, or resemblance to a bird or animal. Christopher Challenger married Agnes Poole on May 16th 1599, at St. Mary at Hill, and the christening of Elizabeth Challenger, took place on May 31st May 1635, at St. Mary, Whitechapel, Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip Chalengur, which was dated 1202, Assize Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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