If one is looking for a surname which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with its appearance, this is a good one to start on! Found in England in the various spelling forms of Fant, Font, Faint, Faunt, Vant and even Phant, this extraordinary name has had an extraordinary development. It was first introduced into England by the Normans after 1066 and derives from the baptismal nickname of endearment "Le Enfant" - "The Child." The Medieval English gradually restyled this to Lenfant, then Le Fant, and finally the "modern" spellings without the article "Le".The name is also found in the unrecognizable London District "Elephant and Castle" - a strangled form of "Le infanta di Castille," the daughter of the King of Spain. Early examples of the name recording include William Le Faunt in the Forest Plea Rolls of Staffordshire in the year 1271, John Faunt of London in 1277 and Alan Fant in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk for 1327. Later recordings were William Faynte at St Giles Church, Cripplegate, London on December 7, 1628 and Edward Faint, at St Dunstans Church, Stepney, on January 28th 1644. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Lenfaunt which was dated 1230, in the "pipe rolls of Shropshire", 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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