This interesting name is one of the most ancient surnames in Britain, being of British, pre-Roman, origin. In most cases the modern surname is from a topographical name for someone who lived on the banks of any of the several rivers named "Trent", in Staffordshire, Derbyshire, and Dorset, for instance. The river name is recorded as early as 115 - 117 by Tacitus as "Trisantona", as "Treenta" and "Treanta" in the Venerable Bede's "Historia Ecclesiastica", and as "Trente" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The British name "Trisanton" is composed of the elements "tri", through, across, and "santon", road, and is thought to mean "trespasser", used of a river liable to floods. In some cases the modern surname "Trent" may be locational in origin, from the village in Dorset so named. One John Trent was an early emigrant to the American colonies, leaving London on the "Plaine Joan" in May 1635, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert de Trent, which was dated 1327, Charters of Somersetshire, during the reign of King Edward 111, "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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