This interesting surname with variant spellings Fettes, Fettis, Phettis, etc., of Law German origin is a nickname for a large person, deriving from the Middle Low German "vett", Old English "foet(t)" meaning "fat". The suffix "s" denotes the patronymic "son of". The surname dates back to the mid 15th Century, (see below). Further recordings include one Johne Fettais who was summoned personally in Judgement in 1519, Alexander Fettes is in Bredfutts Gairdin (1597) "The Commissariot Record of the Brechin Register of Testaments", and Alexander and Andrew Fettes appear in Aberdeenshire (1603) "Records of the Sherriff Court of Aberdeenshire". Church recordings include one Peter Fettes who was christened on July 21st 1691, at St. Anne Soho, Westminster. Sir William Fettes (1750-1836) was founder of Fettes College, Edinburgh. He devoted part of his estate to form endoisment for education of orphan or otherwise needy children. In 1830, a scheme which developed into the present Fettes College. One James Fetes (aged 35 yrs), a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the Europe bound for New York on October 29th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lowrens Fettas, which was dated 1446, a witness in Brechin, during the reign of King James 11 of Scotland, 1437 - 1460. 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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