This unusual and interesting name is of early medieval English 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 coming to be called by that name.The modern surname can be found as Leggatt, Legat(e), Leg(g)ett and Leggitt. The marriage of Richard Colfe and Elisabeth Leggett was recorded at St. Dionis Backchurch, London, in 1585. A Coat of Arms granted to the Legat or Leggett families of Essex, Kent and Norfolk, is an ermine shield with a red lion rampant. Two red lions' gambs erect, supporting a gold mitre, forms the Crest, and the Motto is "Jesus hominum Salvator". 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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