This surname of CANTALLUPO was originally a Norman habitation name from any of a number of places in Normandy, such as Canteleu in Seine-Maritime or Canteloup in Calvados, so called from the Old Norman French CANTE (to sing) and LUPOS (wolf). The name appears to be grimly humerous denoting a settlement where the wolves could be heard howling in the uncleared woods around the settlement. The name has spread into Italy and Spain, and was probably brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066.
During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that 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. Early records of the name mention Walterus de Cantelupo, who was documented in 1135 in London, and Roger de Cantelo appears in County Somerset in 1185. William de Cantelowe was recorded in 1320 in Oxford, and William Cantlowe was mentioned in a document in 1448 in London. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected.
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