This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an example of the sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation or to a variety of features, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. In this instance, the surname derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "catte", Old Norman-French "cat", cat, and the nickname would have been given to someone thought to bear a fancied resemblance to a cat. Occasionally, the surname may be from a medieval female given name, a pet form of "Catlin", the Anglo-Norman French form of "Catherine", from the Greek "katharos", pure. Geoffrey Chat is noted in Sir Christopher Hatton's Book of Seals, Suffolk (1190), and Margaret Kat is listed in the Assize Rolls of Lincolnshire (1202). In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Chatt, Catt, Catte, Katte and Katt. On June 13th 1614, Anne, daughter of John Katt, was christened at the Church of Cowden, Kent, and Elizabeth, daughter of Simeon and Amey Katt, was christened on May 25th 1724, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Cat, which was dated 1167, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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