The English Bedfordshire village of Fancott, is almost certainly the origin of this slightly French looking surname. In fact it seems that in the 18th century an attempt was made to imply this origin when one Peter Fanaquet married Mary Grumley at St Georges Church, Mayfair, London, on November 25th of that year. This however is a lone recording, the others clearly point to the English origin. The village name probably translates as 'the place (cott) where 'fanning' was carried out' - 'fanning' being a form of winnowing, to remove the wheat from the stalk. There are a number of spelling forms including Fancourt, Fancatt, Fancett, Fancitt, Fancott, and probably others. It seems likely that in late medieval times the original village was 'cleared' for sheep farming, and the tenants or many of them, forced off their land under the iniquitous Enclosure Acts. They then took,or were given as their surname, the name of their former village. As few could read or write, and local accents were very pronounced, - lead to the development of varied spellings. Examples of early recordings include Ralph Fancott, a witness at St Margarets Church, Westminster on February 2nd 1646, Margery Fancutt, who married Thomas Hyne at St Peters Church, Pauls Wharf, London, on July 13th 1654, and Robert Fancett, christened at St Giles Cripplegate, London, on June 14th 1801. Possibly the earliest recorded spelling of the family name is that of Anthony Fancet. This was dated July 2nd 1586, when he was a witness at St Annes Church, Blackfriars, city of London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st. She was known as 'Good Queen Bess', and ruled from 1558 - 1604. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax.
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