The primary source of this interesting surname is the Old French "chanterelle", a small bell, a treble (soprano voice) in singing, from "chanter", to sing, originally given either as a nickname to one who rang this bell, or to a chorister or precentor. Early examples of the surname include: Philip Canterel (Staffordshire, 1203); Robert Chanterel (Warwickshire, 1221); Richard Chaunterel (Wiltshire, 1273); and Roger Chantrel (Somerset, 1327). Nicknames, from which a sizeable group of early European surnames arose, were given in the first instance with reference to occupations, various personal characteristics, and to habits of dress and behaviour. Chantrell may also conceivably be a variant of "Cantrell", itself a locational name from Cantrell in Devonshire, recorded as "Canterhulle" in 1330, when one Robert de Canterhulle appears on record. On January 26th 1538, Thomas Canterell and Maria Trenycke were married at Ugborough, Devonshire, and in June 1539, Rose Chauntrell married Richard Redeler at East Down near Barnstaple, Devonshire. The marriage of Paule Chantrell to Anne Cruxton took place at St. Mary le Bow, London, on February 26th 1578. A Coat of Arms held by the Chantrell family is described thus: "Silver, a pelican in her nest vulning herself sable, the nest gold. Crest: A tower argent, in the gate a boar's head sable". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walterus Canterellus, which was dated 1177, in the "Pipe Rolls of Shropshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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