This interesting and curious surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may derive from a medieval given name, probably a double diminutive of "Higg", a form of "Hick", a pet form of the Old Germanic personal name "Richard", with the diminutive suffixes "-on", and "-et". Richard is composed of the elements "ric", power, and "-hard", hardy, brave, strong. However, the surname may also be of Old French origin, as a regional variant of Hugnet, which derives from a nickname given to someone with a particularly loud or piercing voice, from the regional verb "heugner, hugner", from the verb "hennir", to bray, neigh. This surname is found in France as Hugnet, Hignette, Hugnin and Hugnot. Early examples include: the christening of Mary, daughter of Ralph Hignett at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London; the christening of Martha Hignet on December 11th 1653, at St. Giles' Cripplegate; and the marriage of William Hignett and Jean Averay on January 29th 1668. In France, Jeanne, daughter of Nicolas and Jeane Hugnette, was christened on October 26th 1683, at Deville, Ardennes. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Hignett, which was dated 1559, in the "Chester Wills", during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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