Perhaps as many as 15% of all surnames derive from some form of metonymic or nickname. In this case "Tennet" is a developed patronymic form of the Latin "Tenere" and translates as "Little Tenere" or "son of Tenere", Quite why anybody should be called "Ten(ere)" is not clear but it was probably a description of somebody who held strong opinions or who was a Tenacious character. Certainly the name although quite rare, has been recorded since at least the medieval period, although it was probably a french "imfort", the name being recorded heraldically in the Gascony region of France, although this does not affect the meaning and latin origin.The recordings include John Tennet, a witness at the church of St. Dunstans in the East, London on June 19th 1693, when his daughter, Elizabeth was christened. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh Tennett, which was dated May 1st 1575, married Anne Warren at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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