This interesting and unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is from a topographical name for someone who lived near a spring or well, derived from the Old French "fontane", from the Late Latin "fontana", a derivative of the classical Latin "fons". The word was introduced into England by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. However, the name could also be locational from a place in France, named either Fontaine, Fonteyne or Lafontaine, derived from the same element. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. In this case the name was probably brought to England by one of the Norman invaders, who came from one of the places in France already mentioned. Jacob, son of Petter and Mary Fountain, was christened on December 6th 1648 at St. Gabriel's, Fenchurch, London. A Coat of Arms granted to a family in Essex on February 22nd 1619 is red a bend gold, in the sinister chief a cinquefoil silver. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo de Funteines, which was dated 1202, in the "Pipe Rolls of Kent", 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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