Recorded as Britt, Brett, Bert, Birt, Burt, Byrt, and the patronymics Britts, Bretts and Birts, this is an Anglo-Irish surname, but one which is arguably of early French origins. Probably introduced into England at the time of the famous Norman Conquest of 1066, it is said to derive from the personal name Brett, itself a nickname from of the descriptive word Breton, and meaning a person from Brettony or Brittany, as it is now known in North West France. It may also be a nickname for a dark complexioned person, one who was considered by his peer group to (quote) "behave or have the appearance of a Breton". To confuse the origins further a resident of the Strathclyde Region of Scotland prior to the 12th century was called a Brit, meaning that although probably Scottish by birth they were considred to have come from Ireland! Burt, Birt, Bert or Byrt has been an Ulster surname since at least 1640, but is said to have been known in the Dublin area of Ireland as early as the 13th century, at thevery begining of surnames as we know them. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Burt. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of the county of Norfolk, England. This was during the reign of the famous warrior King Edward 1st, known to history as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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