- This is a very interesting surname of medieval origins. Although quite rare, with scattered recordings it has no less than four coats of arms, two from England and two from Ireland. It is polygenetic, meaning that it appeared in different countries as shown below, and at much the sametime, between the 12th and the 14th centuries. Wherever the surname was recorded, the origins are almost certainly the same. These spellings include Cantone, Cantoni, Cantarone (Italy), Cantin, Canton, Cantona, Cantonnet (France), Canton, Canteton, Caunton (England Wales & Scotland), Canton and Condon (Ireland). There is a thread through all the spellings, and that is the original Latin (Roman) word 'canto' meaning a dwelling at the corner of a street or square, or perhaps a farm at the edge of a parish boundary. This would seem to prove that the surname is residential in origin, and in the case of the British Isles was probably introduced from France at the Norman occupation of 1066. It is just possible that some nameholders could originate from an association with heraldry, as the canton was the highest award used as an augumentation of a coats of arms. The Swiss word canton has the same origin, meaning an area of land, but we have no proof of surnames from this source, whilst Canton in China is 19th century, and much too late to provide surnames. It is claimed that as de Canton the surname was first recorded in the county of Pembroke, Wales, in the 12th century. The coat of arms granted in Kent where it is believed nameholders were present in the 16th century, is believed to be the oldest. It has the blazon of a silver field charged with a black lion passant between three red dolphins.
Surnames reference. 2013.