Origin of a Name
|History has changed the spelling of most surnames.
Usually a person spoke his version of his name, phonetically, to a scribe, a priest,
or a recorder. Some variables were adopted by different branches of the family
name. Hence, we have variations in the name....
|ORIGINS OF THE CHESNAY NAME
Normandy was originally occupied by Gallic tribes. The distinguished name Chesnay is considered to have its origins in this ancient land. In the
lst century the Romans invaded. With the departure of the Romans there was chaos. The Duchy was firmly established after the year 911
when Rollo, Earl of Orkney invaded the territory. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy. The name Chesnay was first found in
Normandy, where the family dates back to the Gauls in the sixth century when their root name of Cassamus started according the French
historian Morlet. After the 9th century the family allied and intermarried with the Vikings or Northmen, where they are recorded as an ancient
Norman family with seats and estates.
History has changed the spelling of most surnames. Usually a person spoke his version of his name, phonetically, to a scribe, a priest, or a
recorder. Some variables were adopted by different branches of the family name. Hence, we have variations in the name, Chesnay, some of
which are Duchesne, du Chesne, Duchèsne, Duchès, Duchène, Duchêne, Duchêsne, Chisne, Chauny, Chesne, Chesneau, Chenay, Chesnaie,
Chagneau, Lequesne, Duquesne, Quesne, Chaigne, Chene, Chénier, Chaine, Chand, Chesnot, DuChaine, Duchesneau, Duchesnaux,
LeQuesne, Chassaing, Duchand, Duchaine, many of them are still in use today.
When William, Duke of Normandy conquered England in 1066 Normandy became a part of the crown. In the 12th century, Henry II of
England, Duke of Normandy married Eleanor of Aquitaine, thus acquiring her lands. Henry III finally conceded his continental claim in 1259.
The family name Chesnay became influential in Normandy, in the north of France, where they were a family of great influence and power.
They later branched into the neighbouring provinces of Picardy and Brittany where they were established with seats and estates. Many
branches of the family formed as the family acquired lands and estates throughout France. As a reward for their support during the various
wars or through the many marriages, many members of the family were granted the title of Ambassador or politician. Due to the diversified
cultures and languages of France, the name, pronunciation and spelling changed slightly with each branch of the family, although DuChesne,
and Duchene later became a common variable throughout. Early forms of the name were Cassan, Delcasse and Ducasse. During the
medieval times often the family often spelt their name as Duquesne and LeQuesne. The family grew and branched into Bourbon where they
were the Duchesnois, Lords of Bourbon with lands and estates and popular spellings of the family in this region was Chagneau, Chagnoux, and
Chagnot. Later branching into Auvergne and Limousin, the family could be found as Cassagne and LaChassagne. By the 13th century the
family were well established in many regions and several members who distinguished themselves by their contributions toward the communities
in which they lived and were rewarded with lands, titles and letters of patent confirming their nobility. Rogiers De Chaigne is recorded as
holding lands in Picardy in the 1200's, Jehanot Du Chesne is mentioned in the royal cartularies in 1342, Matheus Cassien of Morcourt in
1340, Jobertus Chenet appears in Picardy in 1227. By the end of the 1500's the family could also be found as Chenay, Chesnay, Chesnaie,
and Cassou in the north, and Cassagne-LaCassagne, Chassagne, Cassan, Chassang, and Chassaing in the south. As a result of their high
position in society, the Duchesne's formed many alliances with other prominent families and in this way, titles were granted and exchanged
according to these pacts. The Duchesneau or Le Chesnot were Lords of Brittany until the 1700's when the title was transferred to the Le
Forestier family. The LeChene or Duchene's were the lords of Normandy until 1710 with the marriage of the heiress to a De Prie. Showing
their prominence, the Duchesne or Le Chesne were Lords of Brittany, Poitou, Normandy, 1'Ile de France and Sologne. Due to their great
wealth, the Duchesne family held the lands and manor of the Canton of Belfont. Notable amongst the family in this period was Lords of
France adopted the role of European cultural leadership in the early 16th century. The New World challenged. The explorers led missionaries
to North America who settled in New France, New England, New Holland and New Spain. Jacques Cartier made the first of three voyages to
New France in 1534. Champlain came in 1608. He made twenty voyages to France to attract settlers. He brought the first true migrant, Louis
Hébert, a Parisian apothecary, and his family, who arrived in 1617.
In 1643, 109 years after the first landings by Cartier, there were only about 300 people in Québec. Migration was slow. The fur trade attracted
migrants, both noble and commoner. By 1675, there were 7000
French in Québec. By the same year the French Acadian presence in the Maritimes had reached 500. The French founded lower Canada,
thus becoming one of the two great founding nations of Canada. Amongst the settlers in North America for this distinguished name Chesnay
were Madame Duchesne, aged 40, who settled in New Orleans in 1823; JB Duchesne, aged 44, who settled in New Orleans in 1822; Andre
Duchene who settled in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1795; Francis Duchand who settled In Philadelphia, PA. in 1773; Anthony Duchaine who settled
in New York in 1687; and David Duchan, aged 30, who settled in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1820.
The family name Chesnay has made many distinguished contributions in France and New France to theworld of science, culture, religion, and
education: Richard Douglas Duchesne, Publishing Company Executive, Concord, New Hampshire; Louis François Duchêne, Director, Center
for Contemporary European Studies, England.
During the course of our research we also determined the most ancient Coat of Arms recorded against this family name Chesnay.
The Coat of Arms for the family name Chesnay was:
On a blue background there is a gold hand with a silver wing holding a silver sword.