This interesting surname is medieval English, but strictly speaking of French or even Roman origins. Recorded in the spellings of Lett, Letts, Lettes, Lettsom, Lettson and Letson, it is a metronymic. In other words it originates not from the fathers name, but from the mothers. As "Lett" it is a short form or nickname of the female given name Lettice or Letticia, deriving from the latin "Laetitia" meaning "happiness" or "gaiety". The female name was not found in England before the Norman Conquest of 1066, but thereafter assumed considerable popularity. Early excamples of the surname recordings include Ralph Lette in the 1296 "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex". and Alicia Letis in the 1379 "Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire". Later examples include Jone, the daughter of William Lett, who was christened at St. Leonard's, Eastcheap, London on June 11th 1542, and Thomas Letts married Rebecca Baker at St. Botolph, Bishopsgate, London on the 27th February 1632. Thomas Lett, an early emigrant to the West Indian colonies, sailed aboard the ship "Faulcon" bound for Barbados in April 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Warin Letice, which was dated 1273, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk". This was during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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