This interesting and unusual surname, popular in northern England and Scottish, is of Old Norse origin, and is locational from the former lands of Laithis in Ayrshire, or from Laithes, a hamlet north west of Penrith, in Cumberland. Both places are believed to be derived from the Old Norse "hlatha", a lathe or barn. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. In some instances, the name may be topographical from residence by "the barns" as in Gilbert del Lathes, in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York, dated 1296, and Adam del Laythes, recorded in the 1332 Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Lathe, Lath(e)y, Lathee, Lathaye, Lawtie and Lattey. James Lawtie was a member of the Scots parliament for Cullen in 1628. Recording from English Church Registers include: the marriage of John Lataye and Jane Gowland on September 27th 1708, in Bishopswearmouth, Durham; the christening of Anne, daughter of John Lathey, on February 7th 1723, at St. Peter's, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire; and the christening of Thomas, son of Andrew Lathy, at Barningham, Yorkshire, on August 24th 1735. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Laithis, which was dated circa 1350, in "Records of Ayrshire", Scotland, during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. 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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