Recorded in many spelling forms including Canter, Cantor, Caunter (English), Kanter, Kanther, and Kantor (German, Austrian and Hungarian), Chaunter and Chanson (France), and others, this interesting surname is occupational. It describes a singer or chorister, and derives from the pre 10th century Frankish word "chantroir" meaning "enchanter or magician". As the name is unlikely to have applied to a monk or churchman, since they were officially at least, celibate, the name is more closely associated with the travelling theatres of the medieval times, who employed many singers and artists.This surname in its various forms was popular throughout Europe from the very beginings of hereditary surnames in the 13th century. Examples of recordings taken from the authentic rolls and registers of the medieval period include Walter Chauntur, in the registers of taxes known as "The Feet of Fines" for the county of Cambridge, England, in the year 1285, and Andreas Kanther of Stuttgart, Germany, in 1498. Other recordings include Zyriak Kantor of Werbach in 1549, and back in England, Mary Chanter who married George Crane on February 23rd 1663, at Hadley, London. The first recorded spelling of the family surname in any spelling anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Hugh le Chantur, which was dated 1235, in the rolls known as "Liber Feodorum" for Leicestershire, England. This was during the reign of King Henry 111, known by the nickname of "The Frenchman", (he was born in France) and reigned1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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