This is a truly ancient English surname. It is medieval and has some French input in that it originates from the word 'plente' meaning abundance. This was a word which appears to have been introduced after the Norman Conquest of 1066, when for the following three centuries French was the official language of England. As to why somebody should be called 'abundant' and precisely what the actual meaning was, is lost in the mist of history. It is safe to say that it was a nickname, and given the robust humour of the Chaucerian period it is possible that it meant the opposite of what it says.However then as now when money or riches reared their heads, people tendered to be called by what they were. So people called Rich were usually rich, it was after all a name given to early bankers, and those called Poor or Poer, were generally poor, but Little John for instance, was the biggest man in the band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest. In this case the early recordings include Simon Plente in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Yorkshire in the year 1230, whilst William Plentee appears in the Assize Rolls of the county of Somerset in 1243. As the Assizes also dealt with tax matters, it may be that this recording is an assessement of Simon.
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