This interesting surname, of early medieval English origin, is either a metonymic occupational name for a huntsman, or a nickname for an exceptionally skilled huntsman, deriving from the Middle English "chase", meaning "hunt", Old French "chaceur, chaceour", hunter. These were given in the first instance with reference to occupation or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarites. The surname dates back to the early 14th Century (see below), and John Chase was recorded in the 1393 Register of the Freemen of the City of York. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Margery, daughter of Thomas and Catherine Chase, on December 12th 1545, at St. Abbots, Kensington; the christening of Henry, son of Richard and Joan Chase, in 1569, at Willesden; and the marriage of John Chase and Ales Hammon on January 4th 1567, at St. Mary Aldermary. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was John Chase (1810 - 1879), a water-colour painter, who exhibited chiefly architectural views between 1826 and 1878. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts four gold crosses crosslet, two and two, on a canton of the same a blue lion passant, all on a red shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Chace, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Essex", 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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