Recorded in a wide range of spelling as shown below, this surname is of Old French, English and Spanish origins but is ultimately Roman (Latin). It derives from the word 'sanctus' meaning blameless or holy, from which developed the later meaning of 'saint'. Ultimately it became a nickname for a notably pious person or given the robust humour of the Middle Ages - the reverse! The word was also occasionally used as a personal name of endearment, and especially on the Continent, where it has ultimately given rise to many surnames of which the following are some examples: Sant, Sains (France), Santi and Santo (Italy), and Santos (Spain). The name was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, where it is found as Saint, Sant, Santos, Sants, and the dialectal Santhouse, either a 'lost' village name, or an anglicised version of Santos. Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic surviving scrolls and charters of ancient times include: John le Seynt, in the Close Rolls of King Henry 111rd of England in 1255, and Hugh Sant, recorded in 1270 in the Court Rolls of the Abbey of Ramsey and of the Honor of Clare (Cambridgeshire). Other examples from surviving church registers include: William Saunt, christened on August 24th 1620, at St. Katherine by the Tower, and Francis Santhouse, whose daughter Martha was christened at St Mary Magdalene, Southwark, both city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger le Sent, which was dated circa 1250, in the "Cartulary of Rievaulx Abbey", Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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