Recorded in many spelling forms including Fitch, Fitchen, Fitcher, Fitchew, Fitchell, and Fitchett, this is an English surname but arguably of Norman-French 11tyh century origins. It is occupational for a work-man who used a "fiche", loosely described as iron pointed implement", and the derivation is from the word "ficher" meaning to plant. Presumably the "fiche" was a sort of plough or harrow, or perhaps performed the duty of the more modern dibler in making holes into which trees and vegatables were planted. It may also have been used as a weapon, in that agricultural implements such as sythes and billhooks doubled up as warlike instruments when the need arose. The surname is very early and widely recorded. These recordings taken from authentic rolls and charters of the Medieval period include: Aedricus Fikeman of Worcester in the Pipe Rolls of the year 1180, William Fich, in the 1240 Assize Court rolls of Suffolk; and Richard Figel of Bedford in 1273. Amongst the many interesting recordings are those of Ralph Fitch (1588 - 1606) was one of the first Englishmen who made the overland route to India, whilst Joseph Fitch was one of the first colonists in New England . He sailed on the ship "Defence of London" bound for Virginia in July 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Fytch, which was dated circa 1150, in the "Hearth Tax Rolls of the city of London. This wa during the reign of King Stephen of England, 1135 - 1154. Surnames became ncessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Over the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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