Few families in England can trace a longer authenticated line than the Conants, for it extends two generations beyond Roger, the immigrant ancestor who landed on American shores in 1623. The name appears to be primarily of Celtic derivation, and in its early form of Conan, or Conon, is found among various races of Celtic origin, including the Britons, Welsh, Irish, Gaels and Bretons. Etymological research indicates that the word is the equivalent of the Welsh cun, Irish cean, Saxon cuning, German konig, Dutch koning, Swedish konung and the Oriental khan - all meaning head, chief, leader or king.
Whether the family came from the Breton of Cornish branch of the Celtic race it is impossible to say. At all events, they were settled in Devonshire as early as the beginning of the fourteenth century. In England thirty-two ways of writing the name have been found, and there are nine others in America, making forty-one in all. Some of the American forms, which include nine also used in England, are: Conant, Cannant, Connont, Connott, Connanght, Connunght, Connaught, Conet, Connet, Connett, Conat, Cunnet, Cunnant, Conit, Connit, and Connitt. In Devonshire, the old home of the family, the name is written Conant, the common pronunciation is Connet or Cunnet. The earliest example of the name with the final t yet found, occurs in the Patent Rolls of England in the year 1277 when there was litigation between Robert Couenaunt and Filota, late wife of Richard Couenanunt, touching the tenement in Alveton, Staffordshire. Four years later, a Robert Conet was a tenant of the manor of Horncastle, Lincolnshire. In the year 1327 Alexander Conaunt was living in the Hundred of Exminster, Devonshire.