This most interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a dialectal variant of "Height", which is itself a topographical name for someone who lived at the top of a hill or on a raised plateau, derived from the Middle English "heyt", summit, height, from the Olde English "hiehethu", high. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The name is found in the modern idiom as Haytor, Hight and Hite, while the surname itself is first recorded in the mid 13th Century (see below). In some instances, the name may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, deriving from "Haytor" in Devon, which is composed of the Olde English personal name "Eofede", from "ifig", ivy. One Reginald le Heytour was recorded in 1296 in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, while John Haytour was mentioned in 1328 in "Kirby's Quest for Somerset". Thomas Hayter (1702 - 1762) was bishop of Norwich (1749 1761), and bishop of London (1761 - 1762), as well as a privy councillor (1761). Sir William Goodenough Hayter (1792 - 1878) was M.P. for Wells (1837 - 1865), and judge-advocate-general (1847 - 1849) and was created a baronet in 1858. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Haytere, which was dated 1260, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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