Type Surname (from occupation)
Pronounced Pron. bay'jents(Old English) [key]
Other Forms FormsBesant
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Meaning & History
The earliest recorded spelling of the surname was "Besant", "Bezant", or "Beasant", which comes from an old French word "besant", which, in turn, was derived from the Latin term "byzantius aureus". The "byzantius" or "bezant" was a gold coin named after the city of Byzantium (ancient name in BC, later named 'Constantinople' in 330 AD). Byzantion was originally a Greek colony founded by Byzas (son of King Nisos of Megara), in 667 BC, and later named as Byzantium. He married Fidalea, daughter of King Varvizos (Varvisios) of Thrace. Due to its unique location on the shore side facing Europe, it flourished for ages and became a central point of trade and rule. The "byzantius" or "bezant" was a gold coin that was initially minted there. The terms became known later across Europe as meaning the circle or disk represented in a coat of arms (known as a 'roundel'). Names, being for occupational or geographical references, have had countless interpretations of possibilities, including these three popular ones: to be the surname of a minter of coins, the location of minting, or as a nickname for someone rich in cash. The historical conveyance repeatedly shows the surname to be a local (English) reference to a person who was an immigrant from Byzantium.