Recorded in a number of spellings including Natt, Neat, Kneath, Knath, and Neath, this is a rare Welsh locational surname. "Rare" not because it is not well recorded, but because it is locational, almost all Welsh surnames are patronymics such as Jones and Thomas. There are no less than five places in the county of Glamorgan called Neath, and any or all of them, can be the originator of this surname. The meaning of the placename and hence the later surname, is believed to be "the cattle farm" from the original Welsh ( pre 7th century Old English) "neat" meaning cattle.The surname is well recorded in Glamorgan from the 17th century, which is quite early for many Welsh surnames, the country being one of the last in Europe to adopt the system of hereditary spellings. Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic surviving church registers of Glamorgan include William Knath of Swansea, on August 28th 1614, William Kneath of Nicholaston, on May 24th 1729, and Mary Neath, who married Thomas Hugh at Pennard, on March 26th 1757. Curiously this surname does not appear in the book of Welsh Surnames, although the rare female name Nest, which is also an occasional surname, is recorded.
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