This uncommon name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is one of the variant forms of the more familiar surname Shutt, which was in the first instances an occupational name for an archer, a "shooter". The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century term "scytta", a derivative of the verb "sceotan", to shoot, the Middle English development being "schut(te), schit(te)". Archers were a vital part of any army in the early medieval period, their skills and importance well evidenced in the Battle of Agincourt (1415), and archery competitions were frequently held to encourage the acquisition of marksmanship; many of the tales of Robin Hood and his men are based on such competitions. Job-descriptive surnames, such as this one, originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and gradually became hereditary. The earliest recording of the name is in the form of a byname or nickname: Wulfsige Scytta, dated circa 1050, in the "Old English Bynames Register" for Hertfordshire. The modern surname forms range from Shutt, Shut(te) and Shoot, to Shoat, Shote, Choat(e), Chote and Choot. Examples from various Church Registers include: the christening of Richard Choat, at Halstead in Essex, in 1537; the marriage of Thomas Choate and Joane Yesseye on February 27th 1586, at Bisham, Berkshire; and the marriage of John Choat and Dorothy Arnes, at Nowton in Suffolk, on May 10th 1694. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannes Schote, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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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