This unusual and interesting surname, recorded in English Church Registers under the variant spellings Oviatt, Ovet(t), Ovyatt and Ovit, and in France as Ovits, is a patronymic form of either of two personal names. The first, "Ovit(t)", is of Anglo-Saxon origin, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Ofa, Ufa". This ancient male given name is no longer recorded independently, but forms the initial element of several English placenames, for example, Offa's Dyke, an old boundary between England and Wales, said to have been built by Offa, 8th Century King of Mercia; Offham (Kent); Ovingdean (Sussex); and Ovington (Essex). The suffix "-itt" represents a French diminutive ending, being a reduced form of "petit". The likely source of the surname in France is "Ovide", from the Latin "Ovidius", a male given name meaning "good, kind", made famous by the Roman poet Ovid, circa 43 B.C. - 17 A.D. Further forms of the name found in Midi and Provence include: Ovize, Ovitz and Ovise. On April 9th 1674, Robertus, son of Roberti and Elizabethae Ovitts, was christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, and on May 2nd 1786, Catherine Ovits and Joseph Senique were married at Pont-Saint-Vincent, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Marryne Ovett, which was dated July 21st 1566, marriage to Thomas Washer, at Lancing, Sussex, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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