Recorded as Cantillion and Chantillion, this is a medieval surname of French origins. It originates from the word 'chantille' which has two possible explanations. The first origin is from the early word 'chanter', and as such it would have described a professional singer, perhaps one who toured between cities, the second is from 'chantier' which means a builder, or perhaps a person who lived at a builders yard. Over the centuries the two origins seem to have become fused, and according to the Dictionary of French Surnames, it maybe that the name should be regarded as a nickname for a singing builder! Occupational surnames were amongst the earliest to be created, but they did not usually become hereditary until a son followed the father into the same line of business. In this case it might have been a singer or a builder. Unfortunately French church register records are very poor. Most early registers were destroyed by the revolutionaries during the famous 1792 uprising, after which and for some ten years all religion was banned and the churches closed down. In this case the earliest record we have is in England, and may have been that of a Huguenot refugee. This is Richard Cantillion, who married Mary Griffin at the famous church of St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on August 30th 1736, and shortly afterwards that of Renee Chantillon whoi married Gabriel Hamard at St Symphorien, Andard, Maine-et-Seine, France, on November 26th 1744.
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