Recorded as Saint, Sant (English & French), Santos, Santus, Sanctus ( Italian, French, Spanish & Portugese), and others, this is surname of Latin (Roman) origins. It is or was medieval, and a nickname for a pious individual, or perhaps given the Chaucerian humour of the period, the complete opposite! It derives from the French word sant, the English seint or saint, but ultimately the Latin "sanctus", meaning blameless or holy. The word was occasionally used in the Middle Ages as a given name, especially on the Continent, and this may have given rise to some instances of the surname. This is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities. The surname first appears in records in England in the 13th century (see below), and other examples include Hugh Sant in the Court Rolls of the Abbey of Ramsey in 1270, and William Le Seynt in the Close Rolls of 1255. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger le Sent, which was dated circa 1250, in the "Records of the Abbey of Rievaulx" (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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