This rare and interesting surname is of French origin and is a nickname given to a loyal trustworthy person. The derivation is from the Old French "leaute", the Latin "legalis", meaning law, obligation, from which the Middle English "lawty", loyalty, is derived. In the modern idiom the variants include Laity, Lawty, Lewt(e)y and L(e)uty, and the following examples illustrate the name development from 1212 (see below) Alan Leaute (1256, Ramsey Abbey Charters), Grizel Lawte (1566, Dunfermline), Thomas Lawtye (1613, Yorkshire Wills), Mary Lawty (1753, Throcking, Hertfordshire) and the christening of John Lawtey at All Saints, Loughborough, Leicestershire on May 15th 1828, and of Ann Lawty on May 10th 1795 at Ashby de la Zouch are both recorded in Leicestershire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Huctredus Leute, which was dated 1212, Fees of Lancashire, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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