Recorded as Tant, Tante, Tanton, Tantom, Tantum, and possibly others, this is apparently an English surname. Certainly as Tanton etc it is one of the many slang forms of the county town name of Taunton in Somerset. "Somersetshire" was almost a separate language in the past like many local dialects, and the town name itself came in for some well recorded tongue twisting. Whether Tant and Tante are short forms is not proven, and the spelling does not appear in any of the well known dictionaries of surnames of the past century and half. This is strange as it is well recorded in the surviving church registers of the city of London since at least Stuart times. We think that it is probably a nickname derived from the French word "tant". This was, and to some extent still is, used to describe somebody who liked their food and eat well, or given the robust humour of the medieval times, the complete reverse! An estimated 15% all surnames are certainly nicknames, and this may be another to add to the list. Early examples of surname recordings include Guido de Tanton of Somerset in the Hundred Rolls of landowners in 1273, and Anne Tante who married Antony Ruddy at the church of St Katharine by the Tower (of London) on July 7th 1667.
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