Recorded in several forms including Bett, Bette, Betty, and others, this is an English surname. Surprisingly it was both male and female being a short form of either Bartholomew or Beatrice and perhaps Elizabeth. The plural form of the modern surname as Betts, can therefore be a patronymic, from the father, or a metronymic, from the mother, meaning "son of Bett". Bartholomew derives from the Aramaic patronymic "bar-talmy", which means "rich in land", with the short form being recorded in London in 1312 when Robert Bet, the son of Bartholomew Bette was so recorded in the [pipe rolls of the city. Beatrice derives from a pre medieval given name, originally the Latin "Viatrix", meaning traveller, whilst Elizabeth is Hebraic in origin and means "oath of God". It was first written as Elisheva, with a later spelling of Elishabat, the second element meaning "peace" and "El", god. Alice Betts and John Samson were married at St. Dunstan's West London, in February 1560, whilst Leonard Betts was the captain of the "Paule", sailing out of London in 1635, transporting English emigrants to the new settlements in Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Terri Bette, which was dated circa 1154, in the History of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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