This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a diminutive of Col, itself a 13th Century pet form of the male given name Nicholas, from the Greek "Nikolaos", a compound of "nikan", to conquer, and "laos", people. This personal name, popularly taken to mean "victory-people", was a favourite among Christians throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, partly due to the fame of the 4th Century St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, who is regarded as the patron saint of children, sailors and pawn-brokers. The name was found in England before the Conquest of 1066, usually borne by a monk, and is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Nicolaus". The form "Collett" contains the diminutive suffix "et(t), and is recorded (without surname) in the 1202 Assize Court Rolls of Northumberland. Early examples of the surname include: Walter Colet (Shropshire, 1273) and Adam Collette (Staffordshire, 1332), the latter being a feminine form derived from the French "Nicolette". Occasionally, the surname is a reduced form of "acolyte", church attendant, as in Simon Colyte, noted in Records of the Abbey of Ramsey, Bedfordshire (1294). On July 1st 1576, Henry, son of Thomas Collett, was christened at St. James', Garlickhithe, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Colet, which was dated 1213, in the "Lewes Chartulary", Norfolk, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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