Recorded as De Courtney, Cortney, Courtney, and others, this is an English surname, but of Norman French origins. Iintroduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066, it is said to have two possible origins. The first is locational, from places called Courtenay in the regions of Loiret and Gatinais. These were named after a pre 5th century Gallo-Roman landlord called "Curtenus," a derivative of the Latin "curtus", meaning short. The second origination is similar, but a nickname for a person who had a snub nose. This was from "curt", also meaning short, and the suffix "nes", a nose. Many early European surnames were created from the habitual use of nicknames, often bestowed with reference to a person's physical attributes. In Ireland Courtney can be either of Norman origin or a form of the Gaelic O'Curnain", meaning a descendant of Curnan, a personal name of obscure origins. Recordings of the name from early surviving church registers include: the christening of Thomas Courtney at All Hallows church, London Wall, on November 11th 1569, and the marriage of William Courtney and Mary Lucas on March 22nd 1590, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. John Courtney and his wife, Sybbill, were early emigrants to America, leaving London on the "Paule" in July 1635, bound for Virginia. An early coat of arms granted to the family depicts a blue fesse between three torteaux on a gold shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald de Courtenay. This was dated 1164, in "Feudal Documents from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds", Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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