This famous surname recorded in the spellings of Comte, Conte and Conti, is of Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese origins. It derives from the Latin 'comptus' meaning 'order or control', and such in the Roman Empire it applied to officials of rank responsible for administering a small region. Later it was adopted as a major mark of nobility throughout much of Europe. Many holders of the surname do indeed have nobility in their blood, whilst others hold the title as a result of either being associated with title holders perhaps through being officials of the noble, or as a nickname for one who had noble aspirations, or possibly because ancestors played the role of a Count in the very popular medieval travelling theatres of the middle ages between the 10th and the 16th century in Europe. What is without argument is that name had such rank that one Italian family were the 'Princes de Conti', in France 'Le Comte de St. Jean' and in Langedoc the 'Conte de Tauriers'. Examples of the surname recording from church records include Juan Conti, who married Anna Maria Vicens, at La Bisbal, Santa Maria, Gerona on May 2nd 1750, whilst in the USA Corina Ida Conti, the daughter of Domenico Conti, was christened at Tomales, California on June 19th 1893. The coat of arms most associated with this distinguished surname is probably that of a red lion rampant regardant set on a gold field. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lucretia Conti, which was dated December 12th 1577, christened at Messina, Italy, during the reign of Pope Gregory 111, reigned from 172 to 1585. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.