This interesting surname, with variant spellings Pettit, Pettett, Pittet, Pettet, Petit and Petyt, originated as a nickname for a small person, or for the younger of two bearers of the same given name. The derivation is from the Anglo-Norman French "petit" meaning small. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics, as in this instance "the little one". The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 11th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: John le Petit, who was noted in the 1228 Essex Feet of Fines, and Roger Petyt, who appeared in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Norfolk. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Richard, son of William Pettitt, on August 4th 1588, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, and the marriage of Anne Pettitt and Henry Good on December 9th 1613, at St. Katherine by the Tower. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts three red pierced cinquefoils (five leaved flower) on a gold chevron, between three silver leopards faces, all on a blue field. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aluric Petit, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Hampshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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