According to the very latest (1992) research information there are some two hundred and thirty five thousand surnames in use in Britain. Some are so rare that they are recorded only once or twice, Sisnett is one of them. It is a development from the Ancient French personal female baptismal name 'Cecilia'. The first prominent 'Cecilia' or 'Cicely' was the daughter of Duke William of Normandy, William 1st of England, and she gave considerable impetus to its use in England. However the name was particularly popular in Yorkshire, in this case from Cicely Neville, Duchess of York in 1460, and known as the 'Rose of Raby'.The most popular form of the surname is the patronymic Sisson (the son of Siss), although early spelling forms were often Cesson or Cisson. 'Sisnett' is a double diminutive, i.e. the Son of the Kin of Cecilia, and was originally formed from the shortened elements of the French 'petit' meaning 'little' and 'kin', implying a close relationship, probably a nephew or cousin of the original 'Siss'. There is a faint possibility that the surname could be an anglicized form of the French Huguenot 'Cesne' from Calavados in Normandy. 'Cesne' means the Cygnet, and as such was probably a nickname for a keeper of swans. Recordings which may be associated with 'Sisnett' included Sisney, recorded in London in 1630, Sissant, found in Nottingham in 1753, and Sisnal, in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire in 1702. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Sisnett, which was dated September 18th 1805, married Sarah Bruce at St Nicholas Church, Liverpool, during the reign of King George 111, known as 'Farmer George', 1760 - 1820. 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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