This interesting surname is English and probably locational. It is of 8th century Anglo-axon origins,and almost certainly derives from either of two places originally called 'Heantune', one in Somerset, and the other in Oxfordshire. The place in Somerset is derived from "henn", meaning the domestic fowl, and "tun", a farm or settlement; hence, "enclosure where hens were kept". It is also claimed that the first element could be a byname or personal name, and used as a nickname to describe a fussy person and therefore "Henn's settlement". The place in Oxfordshire is derived from the Olde English "heah", meaning high, plus "tun". This suggests that the original settlement was on a hill. The Somerset village was first recorded in 1065, the year before the arrival of the Norman Invaders, whilst the village in Oxfordshire was first recorded in 1220, and as "Henton" in 1236, both in the Book of Fees of the county. Given that some ten centuries have passed since the origination of the village if not the surname, it is difficult to be precise about whether a surname is derived from an established placename, or a topographical feature or even, as in this case, a nickname. It is also possible that the name is from some minor, unidentified place which is now "lost", although we are reasonably happy that we have the derivation correct with this name. Examples of the surname recording taken from church registers include Elizabeth Hanton, who married Robert Clarke, at Uxbridge, Middlesex, on June 19th 1541, and Marie Hanton, the daughter of Hugh Hanton, christened at St Botolphs without Aldergate, London, on August 1st 1642. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Henton, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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