Recorded as Catt, Chatt, Katte, and the diminutives Chattie, Chattey, Chatty, Cheety, and possibly others, this is a medieval English surname. It was a nickname and originates either from the pre 7th century English word "cat" or the later Norman-French "chat," this being an introduction into the British Isles after the Norman Conquest of 1066. As such it was given to a quick moving person, possibly a successful hunter, one who combined the characteristics of a cat. Surnames from nicknames form one of the largest groups in the surname listings, and it is estimated that at least a quarter of all surnames started out as nicknames.That such a name was considered to be complimentary is shown by its survival, those that were not, like Rattlepate for instance, failed the test of time. The surname development over the centuries includes Geoffrey Chat, who was recorded in the Seal Holders List of Suffolk in the year 1190, Margaret Cat, in the Court List of Lincoln in 1202, and Guilelmus Chattye who married Elisabeth Lingham at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on February 30th 1572. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Catt. This was dated 1167, in the County Rolls of Norfolk. during the reign of King Henry 11nd, and known as "The Church Builder", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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