This is a medieval English surname of residential or locational origins. It describes somebody who was resident at "the High-Gate", which in this context may refer to the former village of Highgate, in London, or to other places so named, or to living by the high road, see below. The surname spelling over the centuries was corrupted by changing dialects firstly to Hy-ate and finally to Hyett or Hyatt. To understand how this happened it is important to realise that in medieval English the letters "g" and "y" were synonymous, to gate and yate could mean the same thing.To complicate the matter the word "gate" may mean a road and not refer to "gates" at all, but to "geats" or roads. "Geat" was a pre 7th century Danish-Viking word much used in England. For instance many of the streets in the ancient walled city of York, the former Viking capital, are called "gate", whilst the actual "Gates" to the city are called by the ancient British word "bar" as in Monk Bar or Bootham Bar. Consequently this surname may also be interpreted as "one in residence at the high road", as well as the more popular theory. In the modern idiom the name has at least six spelling variations including: Hyett, Hieatt, Highett, Highatt, and Hiett. An interesting name bearer was John Hyatt (1767 - 1826), minister of the London church known as "The Tabernacle". He published many religious tracts and sermons, from which he seems to have made a good living selling onto other priests. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John atte Hagheyate. which was dated 1327, in the Kirby's Quest of Somerset. during the reign of Edward 111 of England. He was known as the "Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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