Recorded in many forms including Lecoint, Lecointe, Le Compte, Compte, Le Conte, Le Count, Lecount, Cointe, Conte, Count, and others, this interesting surname is of ancient French origins. Also introduced into the British Isles at the famous Norman Conquest of England in 1066, and six centuries later with the famous Huguenot protestant refugees, it had several possible origins. It may indeed have referred to a count, since this was not a British title, but more likely it was a nickname either for an actor one who played the part of a count or nobleman in the famous travelling theatres of those times. If not and given that the French invaders were highly unpopular, it was satirical and given to someone thought to behave in an aristocratic fashion! The derivation is from the pre 7th century word "conte", from the Latin word "comes" meaning a comrade. It is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. Examples of recordings taken from surviving early church registers include Andrieu, son of Michiel Le Conte, christened on February 25th 1617, at Conde-Sur-L'escaut, departement of Nord, France, and in the city of London the marriage of Andrew Le Conte and Mary Cassy on December 23rd 1694, at St. James church, Duke's Place, Westminster, and the christening of Anne Le Count, the daughter of Lovis Le Count, at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on April 24th 1687. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph le Conte. This was dated 1196, in the Pipe Rolls of Durham, during the reign of King Richard 1st of England, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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