This name is of English locational origin and would have been applied to someone from the county of Kent. The county was known as Cantium in 51 B.C. and as Cantia circa 730 in Bede's "Historia Ecclesiastica". The name is believed to derive from the Celtic "cantr" (Welsh "Cant" meaning "rim" or "border",hence "border land" or "coastal district". The surname had clearly emerged by the mid 12th Century (see below). One Richard (le) Kentis is recorded in the Pipe rolls for Leicestershire (1176) and Richard Kentish is the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex (1332). Variant forms include Kintish and Cantes. One Elizabeth Kentish married John Beldon on April 17th 1650 at St. Lawrence Jewry, London. A famous Kentish was the Unitarian minister of religion and writer John Kentish (1768 - 1853). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Centeis, which was dated 1165, Documents from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 11, "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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