This unusual and interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and is derived from the Middle English "cony", rabbit, a back-formation from "conies", adopted from the Old French "conis", the plural form of "conil", from the Latin "cuniculus". The surname from this source has two possible interpretations; firstly, it may have originated as a nickname for someone thought to bear some resemblance to a rabbit, as in Richard le Cony, recorded in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1296. Many early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames, often given in the first instance with reference to some fancied resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition. The second possible interpretation of the surname Coney or Cony is that it derives from a metonymic occupational name for a dealer in rabbits and rabbit-skins, perhaps also a furrier. The Thomas Cony listed in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York in 1323 was a "pelter". Among the recordings of the name in Church Registers are the christening of John, son of John Coney, on February 17th 1566, at St. Clement's, Hastings, Sussex, and the marriage of John Coney and Margaret Hall at Earls Colne, Essex, on June 17th 1596. One of the Coats of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts a silver fesse cotised between three silver conies on a black shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Griffin Cony, which was dated 1272, in the "Book of Fees of Herefordshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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