This ancient surname is generally of early English pre 7th century origins, although well recorded in other countries including Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It is recorded in many forms including:Abett, Abitt, Abott, Abbot, Abbott, Habbett and Labett, and the patronymics usually indicated by an 's', but occasionally found as Abbotson. In medieval times however spelt, it had several possible origins. These were as an occupational surname either for a person employed by an abbot, or for an actor who played the part of an abbot in the famous medieval pageants. It has also been suggested that at times it may have been a nickname for one who conducted himself like an abbot, or even that in some cases the name may refer to the offspring of an abbot. However as the clergy were supposed to be celibate, that is an area of doubt. The surname when recorded in Scotland, is either of English origin, or as a translation of MacNab, which also means 'son of the abbot'. The original spelling was as 'abbod', Ralph Abbod being recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Somerset in 1272. Early examples of the recordings include Walter Abat, in the Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire in 1219, and Elizabeth Abbet, who married Henry Waterman at the church of St Lawrence Poutney, London, on January 11th 1600. George Abbot (1562 - 1633) was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1611, whilst Elizabeth Abbitt was recorded as 'living in Virginea, over the river' on February 16th 1623, making her one of America's earliest colonists. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Abbot, which was dated circa 1190, in the Danelaw records of Lincolnshire. This was during the reign of King Richard 1st of England, and known as 'Lionheart'. He reigned from 1189 to 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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