General information. ..
Origin of the family name.
Today, we take for granted that every-one has a first name and a surname but it has'nt been always the case. The nicknames, which will become the family names has appeared in different times according to the cultures; In China, the nicknames appeared at about the year 2853 before Christ. In Europe and in England the nicknames made their appearance at about the year 1000 AD. The nicknames were used at that time by the aristocracy to differentiate a person from another.
Villages and cities grew and it became necessary for people to have a second name. The nickname with the birth name became the only way to identify legally a person. The nickname was especially necessary to prove the ownership of land and other properties.
This requirement by the aristocratic class during more than three centuries became afterwards, widespread for all the levels of the society. At the end of 14th century, every-one had a nickname in Europe.
Originally the nicknames were create to identify a person from another. Pierre son of Jacques became Pierre Jacques, John's son became Jonhson, etc. Other nicknames identified a person by his native place: John Nottingham (city of Nottingham, England). Others were identified by their trade or profession: dressmaker, baker. Another popular mean of identifying a person was his character or appearance: rich, Legrand, Legros. And so on,the use of a surname was created.
Whith this practice, confusions still remained. One's nickname did not necessarily follow with the children. For example, the son of Jean Couturier, this nickname being the trade, Pierre could be called Pierre Jean (son of Jean). To eliminate this confusion, it was established that the nickname or surname of a father would be inherited by his children at birth.
Our surname represents an interesting recollection of our past. It could bring us interesting information on our ancestors history.
Many family names underwent alterations during the past years. We must remind that many of our ancestors were illiterates and the spelling of names or surname was was mosthly written in registers by the priest, the notary or other registrar on oral indications. A bad pronunciation could entail error in writing the name; so Choret becames, in the course of time, Chauret, Choret, Charette, Charest.