There are two possible origins for this rare surname, both French and medieval English. The first is occupational, and derives from the word "patelette", a garment worn about the chest, but being in effect an extended collar or ruff, a "Partlett" being a maker of such garments, or possibly a nickname for an early weaver. The second possibility is theatrical, deriving from "Pertelote", and describing a man who played the part of a woman, specifically "a dame", in plays. In this respect the origin is satirical, the hen in Chaucer's "Nun's Priest's tale" being called Dame Partlet. The first use of the word in relation to ruffs or collars is 1519, whilst other surname recording examples from London Church Registers include: John Partlett, who married Elizabeth Holyfield at St. Leonard's Church, Shoreditch, on October 17th 1789; Mary Partlett, who married William Pratt at St. Dunstan's Church, Stepney, on December 8th 1839; and George Partlett, a witness at the christening of his daughter, Frances, also at St. Dunstan's, on October 8th 1843. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Fraunsis Partlett, which was dated June 14th 1604, marriage to Margaret Walters, at St. Mary Magdalene, London, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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