This interesting and unusual surname, recorded in London Church Registers under the variant spellings Latus, Lettice, Leates, Lettuce, Lattos, Laytus, Latehouse and Laughtisse, is of English origin, and derives from the Latin "laetitia" meaning "joy". The female personal names "Leticia, Lettice" and "Letizia" were formed from this word, the latter being the name of Napoleon's mother. "Leticia" (without surname) appears in the 1206 Curia Regis Rolls of Essex. The surname was first recorded in the mid 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include, Warin Letiz and Margaret Letice, in the 1275 Hundred Rolls of Suffolk. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Thomas Laughtisse and Margareta Tolfrey on April 15th 1577, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster; the marriage of Margaret Laetes and Thomas Shipton on December 30th 1659, at St. Mary's, Aldermary; and the christening of Patience, daughter of Nicholas Latus, at St. Andrew's, Holborn, on October 24th 1686. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Letice, which was dated 1247, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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