Recorded as Follet, Follett, Folliott, Follit, Follitt, and others, this is one of the very earliest of surnames recorded in England, and is of French origins. Its origins are obscure, but it would seem to derive from the word folet, a diminutive of fol, meaning eccentric or foolish. This would seem an unlikely explanation given that the surname applied not only to a major land owner, but a close supporter of William of Normandy, but anything is possible with surnames. A second suggested origin is that it was an occupational name for an actor, one who traditionally played the part of a comedian or joker in the famous travelling theatres of the medieval period. Again this seems unlikely given its prior appearance in Domesday Book. Whatever the origin it would seem to have been introduced into England at the Norman Conquest of 1066, and it is one of the earliest recorded anywhere in the world. Other examples include Roger Folet in the Pipe Rolls of Kent in 1158, whilst later random church recordings from surviving registers of the city of London include Luce, the daughter of Roger Follett, christened on March 12th 1591at St. Mary Abchurch, and Thomas Folliott, a witness at St Giles Cripplegate on April 22nd 1628. Sir William Follett (1798-1845) was the solicitor-general under Sir Robert Peel (1834-1835, 1841), and defended Lord Cardigan in the duel case. He was granted a coat of arms with the blazon of a barony of twelve red and silver, charged with a black bend. The Motto is "Quo virtus ducit scando" or "I climb where virtue leads". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Folet. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book for Kent, during the reign of King William 1st, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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