This most interesting surname is of Old French origin, introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The derivation is from a nickname for one who had good fortune or luck, or perhaps to someone who survived an accident by some remarkable piece of luck, from the Old French "cheance", Middle English "chea(u)nce", fortune, luck, accident. The name may also have been given to an inveterate gambler. The surname, first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below) is also found as "Chaunce" in the modern idiom. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics. One Ralph Chance was recorded in 1310 in the Feet of Fees Records of Essex. On April 24th 1606, Jerime Chaunce married Tomassine Typpine at St. Katherine by the Tower, London. A Coat of Arms was granted to a Chance family at Birmingham and depicts a saltire vair between two fleurs-de-lis in pale and two silver towers in fesse. Their motto is "Deo non fortuna", (By Providence, not by fortune). Ellin Chaunce or Channce, aged 21 yrs., sailed on the "Amitie" for the Barbadoes on October 13th 1635, and was one of the early settlers there. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Chance, which was dated 1209, in the "Pipe Rolls of Essex", 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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