This name, with variant spellings Marchent, Marchand, Marquand, Merchant and Le Marchant, derives from the Old French "marcheant" (Middle English "marchand"), meaning a merchant or trader, and was originally given as an occupational name to a buyer or seller of goods. The ultimate root of the name lies in the Late Latin "mercis", commerce, exchange or merchandise. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The surname was first recorded at the beginning of the 13th Century (see below), and one Roger Marchaunt and a Herueus Merchant were listed as witnesses in the 1219 Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire. In 1240, Ranulph le Marchand appeared in the Fine Court Rolls of Essex, and a Reginald le Marchant was listed in the 1247 Pipe Rolls of Cambridge. An interesting namebearer was Nathaniel Marchant (1739 - 1816), a gem engraver and medallist, who exhibited at the Royal Academy and was assistant engraver at the mint in 1797. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Marchand, which was dated 1202, in the "Pipe Rolls of Berkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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.