This unusual and interesting name is of early medieval origin, and is an occupational surname for an ambassador or deputy. The derivation is from the Old French and Middle English word "legat", from the Latin "legatus", from "legare", to appoint, ordain, from "lex", "legis", law, command. In addition to being an official name for a "legate", an official elected to represent his village at the manor court, the surname may derive from a "pageant-name" similar to the medieval surnames of official position such as "Lord", "Knight", "King", and "Bishop", these being frequent characters on show in medieval pageants, and those that played them easily came to be called by that name. The modern surname can be found as "Leggatt", "Legat(e)", "Leg(g)ett" and "Leggitt". The christening of one John Legate was recorded at St. John's, Hackney, London, on March 14th 1565. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter Legat, which was dated 1199, in the "Pipe Rolls of Cornwall", 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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