This interesting surname being a dialectal variant of Fenton is a locational name from places called Fenton in Cumberland, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, and Church Fenton in the West Riding of Yorkshire, deriving from the Old English pre 7th Century "fenn" meaning "marsh", "fen" plus "tun" "enclosure", or from Venton in Devonshire or the barony of Fenton in East Lothian. Recordings include one Adam de Fenton (1230), "The Curia Regis Rolls of Derbhshire", and John de Fenton (1261), Sheriff of Forfar.It may also be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic O Fionnachta, "descendant of Fionnachta", a personal name composed of the elements "Fionn" meaning "fair", "white" plus "sneachta" "snow". The surname dates back to the late 12th Century, (see below). London Church records include Margaret, daughter of Henry Fantam, was christened at St. Margaret, Westminster, in December 1624, and John Fentem married Mary Morrison at St. Martin in the Fields Westminster, on December 18th 1863. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Fenton, which was dated 1199, Pleas before the King or his Justice, during the reign of King John known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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