Recorded in many spellings including Laughtisse, Latus, Lettice, Lettyce, Leates, Lettis, Letties, Lettuce, Lattos, Laytus, Latehouse and probably others, this is an English surname but one probably of medieval French origins. It ultimately derives from the Latin word "laetitia" meaning joy, and as such given firstly as the female personal names Leticia, Lettice and Letizia. The name was particulary popular in France in the 19th century being the name of Napoleon's mother. "Leticia" (without a surname) appears in the Curia Regis Rolls of the county of Essex in the year 1206, indicating that this lady was a land owner in her own right. Early examples of recordings include Warin Letiz and Margaret Letice, in the Hundred Rolls of Suffolk in 1275, whilst recordings from surviving church registers of the city of London include the marriage of Thomas Laughtisse and Margareta Tolfrey on April 15th 1577, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster; the marriage of Margaret Laetes and Thomas Shipton on December 30th 1659, at St. Mary's, Aldermary; and the christening of Patience, daughter of Nicholas Latus, at St. Andrew's, Holborn, on October 24th 1686. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of John Letice. This was dated 1247, when he was a witness at the Assize Court of Bedfordshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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