Recorded in several spellings including Pettiward, Pedward, Pettiworth, Pittwood, and Petworth, this is an English medieval locational surname. It originates either from the town of Petworth in Sussex or the village of Pittworth in Dorset, or from residence in an area of wood land containing pits and hollows. The two places, as above, were recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1066, and both have the same meaning, which is "the pits in the fenced woods" or similar. The derivation is from the pre 7th century "pit" which means what it says and describes either a clay pit, if in the south, or more likely a coal pit in the north, plus the Olde English word "worp", the modern wood or worth.The precise meaning can vary around the country. Early exanples of the surname recording taken from surviving registers and charters of the late medieval period include the marriage of John Pickforthe and Rachell Browne at New Sleaford in Lincolnshire, on July 26th 1577, Roger Pettiward, at St Dunstans in the Est, Stepney, on september 1st 1600, Edward Pettiworth at St James church, Clerkenwell, on April 30th 1649 and Elizabeth Pittwood, who married Thomas Sorrell, also at St Dunstans, on September 28th 1708. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Wyll Pecworthe, which was dated January 7th 1561, at the village church of Great Hale, Lincolnshire. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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