This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and has two possible derivations; firstly, it may be a nickname for a rapacious person, deriving from the Middle English "kete, keyte", a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "cyta" meaning kite (bird), plus the suffix "s" denoting son of. Secondly, it may be a metonymic occupational name for a herdsman, from the Olde English "cyte" meaning hut, shed or outhouse for cattle or sheep. The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century, (see below). Early examples of the name include Richard Kyte (1243) in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset, and Ralph atte Kete (1292) in the "Place Names of Kent" and variations in the spelling of the surname include Kits, Keets, Keats, Ketts. London Church Records list the marriage of Robert Keats to Ann Robinson on the 11th April 1626 at St. Bride's Fleet Street, and the christening of Elizabeth, daughter of William and Katherine Keates, on the 15th August 1650 at St. Andrew's, Holborn. A Coat of Arms granted to a Keats family is silver, three black mountain cats passant in pale. The Crest is a black mountain cat passant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ailnoeth Kete, which was dated 1166, 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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