Recorded in several spellings including Lett, Letts, Lettes, Lettsom, Lettson and Letson, this is an English surname. It is also a metronymic, and originates not from the fathers name, but from the mothers. It is a short or nickname of the female given name Lettice or Letticia, deriving from the Roman "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 examples of the surname recordings include Ralph Lette in the Subsidy Tax rolls of Sussex in 1296 and Alicia Letis in the Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire in 1379. 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 who married Rebecca Baker at St. Botolphs Bishopsgate, 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. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Suffolk during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 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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