This most interesting surname is of Old Scandinavian origin, and is a locational name from either Kellet in Lancashire, which was recorded as "Chellet", in the Domesday Book of 1086 and as "Kellet" in the Pipe Rolls of 1194; or Kelleth in Cumberland, which appears in documents published in the "Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society", circa 1200 as "Keldelith". The placenames share the same derivation, which is from the Old Norse "keld-hlieth", composed of "kelda", a spring and "hlieth", a slope, hillside; hence "a slope with a spring". During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, which resulted in a wide dispersal of the name. The name is first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), while other early recordings include William de Kellet, mentioned in the Feet of Fines of Yorkshire in 1279, and Mariota Kelitt, who appears in the Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1327. Sir Henry Kellett (1806 - 1875) rose to the rank of vice-admiral in the British navy. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Kellet, which was dated 1194, in the "Pipe Rolls of Cumberland", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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