This interesting and unusual name is of Medieval English origin and is a topographical surname for a dweller by the gate, which is derived from the Middle English 'by', by or beside, with the Old English 'geat', the Middle English 'yat, gat', meaning gate. The following example illustrates the name development after 1297 (see below), Ralph Bytheyate (1379, Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire) and in the modern idiom the variant spellings are Byatt, Byatte and Byott. Topographical names are some of the earliest names to be created, as topographical features, whether natural or manmade, provided obvious and convenient means of identification. Amongst the sample recordings in London are the christenings of Ann Bygate on August 4th 1611 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and Jeromiah Bygate on October 24th 1627 at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas Byate, which was dated 1297, Ministers Accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall, during the reign of King Edward 1, 'The Hammer of the Scots', 1272-1307. 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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