This most interesting name, although a rare English surname, is of Old French origin. It is a topographical name for "a dweller by the chestnut tree", from the Middle English "chesteine", from the Old French "chastaigne", ultimately deriving from the Greek "kastanea", meaning "nut of Castanaea", and in the modern sense means "chestnut". This was also found as "chester nut" in Middle English, while it was spelt "chesnut" until the early 19th Century. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Early recordings of the surname include the marriage of Archibald Chestnut and Judith Funderil, on May 13th 1758, at Trinity Church Parish in New York; the christening of John, son of Richard and Jane Chesnutt, on May 25th 1760, at York Springs Adam in Pennsylvania; while James, son of Thomas Chesnut, was christened in 1764, at Renshaw Street in Liverpool. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam Chasteyn, which was dated 1279, in the "Cambridgeshire Hundred Rolls", during the reign of Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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