This unusual and interesting name is of Old French origin, introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It has three distinct interpretations, with quite separate histories and derivations. Firstly, the surname Billet(t) may derive from a short, pet form of the Old French personal name "Robillet", itself a diminutive form of the male give name Robert, adopted by the Normans from the Old Germanic "Rodbert", composed of the elements "hrod", renown, fame, and "berht", bright. Secondly, the surname may derive from a metonymic occupational name for a carpenter, from a diminutive form of the Old French "bille", piece of wood, stick, an ancient word of Gaulish origin. Finally, Billet(t) may be a metonymic occupational surname for a secretary derived from a diminutive of the Old French "bulle", letter, from the Latin "bulla", round object, seal, applied to the seal on papal missives and so to the documents themselves. However, this sense of "billet" was not established in England until the 15th century, and is therefore less likely to be the source for modern surnames than the other two possible derivations. London Church Registers record the marriageof Mary Billett and Richard Eaton on June 30th 1611, at the St. Giles', Cripplegate, and the christening of Joseph, son of Thomas and Judith Billett, at St. Andrew's, Holborn, on January 1st 1642. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Byllett, which was dated April 25th 1574, marriage to John Collen, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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.
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