This very unusual name is of Medieval English origin, and derives from a nickname variant of a personal name, 'Petitjohn', recorded in Hastings, Sussex, in 1559 as John Petijohn. The nickname represents an early English adoption of the Anglo-Norman French word 'petit', used for a small person, or for the younger of two bearers of the same personal name, within this instance the male given name John, introduced into England by the Normans as Jean, Johan, and Jehan, and also by the Crusaders, usually appears in early recordings in the Latinized form of 'Johannes'. The name means 'Jehovah has favoured (me with a son)', and by the beginning of the 14th Century was rivalled only by 'William' in popularity. The name 'Pettijohn', also found as 'Peatheyjohn(s)' and 'Pattyjohn(s)', thus means 'Little John', or 'Young John', the plural forms being patronymics. The christening of Mary Peatheyjohns was recorded on April 4th 1790 at St. Sepulchre, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Petijohan, which was dated 1327, The Sussex Subsidy Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 111, 'The Father of the Navy', 1327-1377. 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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