This is one of the oldest of English surnames and is of Anglo-Saxon origin, from a nickname for a man of small stature. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "lytel", originally a diminutive of "lyt", meaning light and the Middle English "littel", meaning "small, slight, little". The nickname was also used as a distinguishing byname for the younger of two bearers of the same given name, as in the modern practice of using the term "junior" for the same purpose. In some cases the name may have been used to denote the opposite of its meaning, as in the surviving surname "Little John", often used of a "giant". One Lefstan Litle appeared in circa 1095, in Feudal Documents from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds (Suffolk). John and Jane Little were early emigrants to the New World being recorded in the parish of Christchurch, Barbadoes, in 1678. Variants of the surname include Littell, Lytle and Lyttle. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Eadric Little, which was dated 972, in the "Records of Old English Bynames", Northamptonshire, during the reign of King Edgar, 959 - 975. 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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