Recorded in many forms as shown below, this unusual and interesting surname is English but of Norman French origin. Introduced into England by the Norman invaders after the famous Conquest of 1066, it is topographical and denotes residence near a conspicuous oak tree or in an oak forest. It is derived from the pre 7th century word "chesne", meaning "oak (tree)", from the Latin "caxinus", a variant of "cassanus", meaning oak. 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.Sometimes the name may have been used as a nickname for someone thought to have "a heart of oak". After the first recording of the name in 1086, as below, a great many variant forms developed such as Cheyne, Cheyney, Chaney, Cheenay, Chesnay, and particularly in the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk, Chenery, Chinery and Chinnery, with Henry Chenery being recorded as the mayor of Lynn Regis in Norfolk in 1682. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Radulfus de Caisned. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of 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 sometimes 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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