This unusual and interesting name is of Old French origin, introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. The derivation is from the Old French "chesne, chesnai", oak tree, oak grove, from the medieval Latin "casnetum", and the surname may be either locational or topographical in origin. As a locational name, Cheyne may derive from any of the places named with the Old French "chesnai", such as Quesnay in Calvados and La Manche, Le Quesnay in Seine-Inferieure, or Quesnay-Guesnon in Calvados. As a topographical name, Cheyne denoted residence near a conspicuous oak tree, or in an oak forest. In some few cases, the surname may have originated as a nickname for a man with a "heart of oak". The surname is now found widespread in Scotland, where the first known bearer of the name is William de Chesne, who witnessed a charter in 1200. The development of the name includes the following examples: Hugh de Cheisnei (1166, Oxfordshire); Robert de Cheinnei (1183, Lincolnshire); William de Cheny (1235, Suffolk); and Alexander de Cheyne (1296, Sussex). One Abram Cheynei was an early emigrant to the New World colonies, leaving London on the "Expedition" in November 1635, bound for the Barbadoes. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is chequy gold and blue, a red fesse fretty gold. The Crest is a buck's head erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Radulfus de Caisned, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book, Sussex, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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