This is an extraordinary surname which is believed to be of English origins. According to the famous directory called the 'International Genealogical Index' the name could be recorded in any of about thirty forms. These include Tanse, Tant, Tont, Tunt, Ton, Tan, Tann, Ten, Tynt, and others. The meaning is equally obscure, but we feel that it is a nickname, and probably from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'tan' meaning a branch. As such the name may well have been either a personal name of endearment or more likely in medieval times, a nickname for a thin person, one built like a twig. It is also possible that it is at least for some nameholders the name is locational from living at a 'tun' a farm or settlement, or even by a 'tan', later 'tame' meaning a river or branch of a river. There does not seem to be any place called 'Tan(t)', unless it be the village of Tanton, in Yorkshire, although this was spelt Tameton in 1086. Examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers of the post medieval period include: Cornelius Tanse, a witness at St Ann's Blackfriars, on November 10th 1585, and Penelope Tant, who married Thomas Whitlocke at St Giles Cripplegate, on April 14th 1661.
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