The Italian and French surname of FONTENOT was originally derived from the Old French 'fountaine' a locational name 'the dweller at the fountain'. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land. The name was brought into England during the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066, and was originally in the Latin form of FONTANA. Early records of the name mention Adam de la Funteyen, County Norfolk, during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272). Geoffrey de la Fontayne, London, 1273. John Geoffrey married Joane Fowntayne at St. James's Clerkenwell, London in the year 1592. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village early times, has served to name many families. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. A notable member of the name was Marquis de Louis FONTANES (1757-1821) the French writer and politician, born in Niort. In 1777 he went to Paris and acquired a reputation by his poems. In 1810 he entered the senate and was raised to the Peerage by Louis XVIII. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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