Recorded in a number of spellings including Natt, Neat, Kneath, Knath, Knatt, and Neath, this is an Olde English and possibly Welsh, pre 7th century surname. It is believed to be locational, and to originate from any of the various places called Neath or Neat, and possibly other now "lost" medieval sites. The meaning of the placename and hence the later surname, is "The cattle farm" from the Old English word "neat" meaning cattle. The surname is well recorded in London from the mid 16th century and in wales, where hereditary surnames took much longer to establish than in England, from the 17th century. Wales along with parts of Scandanavia and perhaps surprisingly Italy, being the last countries in Europe to adopt the system of fixed hereditary surname spellings. Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic surviving church registers include Rowland Natte who married Benett Coocke, at Christ Church, Greyfriars, London, on St Stephens Day (now Boxing Day) 1581, James Nat, christened at St Margarets, westminster, on July 1st 1600, and William Knath of Swansea, born there on August 28th 1614. Later examples include William Knatt of Wandsworth, London, on March 22nd 1634, William Kneath of Nicholaston, on May 24th 1729, and Mary Neath, who married Thomas Hugh at Pennard, Wales on March 26th 1757.
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