This intriguing name is of medieval Scottish origin and is locational from the coastal town of Leith near Edinburgh, which takes its name from the river at whose mouth it stands, and is derived from the Gaelic 'lite' meaning wet, and is comparable to the Welsh 'llaith', damp or moist. There are reported to be three fables as to the origin of the Leiths, the first being that they held the barony of Restalrig, secondly, that they were burgesses of Edinburgh, who gave their name to Leith Wynd, and thirdly, that the founder of the family of Leith of Harthill, in the parish of Oyne, was William de Lethe, burgess of Aberdeen. The following examples illustrate the name development after 1342; Laurence de Leth (1388), Robert de Leithe (1406), Leithe (1641), James Leith married Christian Watson on December 27th 1670 at Canongate, Midlothian. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert of Leth, which was dated 1327, Edinburgh, Scotland, during the reign of King Robert 1, 'The Bruce', 1306-1329. 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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