Recorded in many forms including Coney, Cony, Conie, Conning (English), Cony and Conil (French and Provencal), Conejo and Coello (Spanish), Conill, Cunill, Cuni and Cunio (Catalan), Coelho (Portugese) and no doubt others, is a surname of Roman (Latin) origins. It derives from the Old French word "conis", from the ancient Roman (Latin) "cuniculus", meaning rabbit. The surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may have been an occupational name for a breeder of rabbits, or secondly it may have been a nickname as in the recording of Richard le Cony, in the Subsidy Tax rolls of the county of Sussex, England, in 1296. Given the robust humour of the medieval period and particularly where it applied to nicknames, it is reasonable to assume that the said Richard was the opposite of a rabbit! Thomas Cony who was listed in the register of the Freemen of the City of York in 1323 was a "pelter", or dealer in animal skins. Among the many recordings of the surname in surviving church registers of England is the christening of John Coney, on February 17th 1566, at St. Clement's, Hastings, Sussex. In Eng;land the name is famous through the work of the painter Terrence Cunio, of Spanish origin. Surnames worldwide became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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