Recorded in the spellings of Pitcaithly, Pitcaithley, Pitceathly, Pitkaithly, Pitkeathley, Pitkethly and no doubt many others forms as well, this is a Scottish locational surname. It derives from the village or lands of Pitcaithly in the parish of Dunbarny in the ancient county of Perthshire. The meaning is obscure, but the derivation is probably from the Old English or Gaelic pre 7th century 'pen-caelc' or similar, which in this context could mean the chalk hill, or possibly an area from which lime was removed. The use of lime for improving land has been known for several thousand years. Locational surnames are generally rare in countries or regions which have retained to some degree at least, the use of the Gaelic language. The exceptions to this rule are Cornwall, where surnames are almost exclusively locational, and some parts of Scotland, usually on the east side, as in this case. What is certain is that we have here one of the earliest of all known Scottish surname recordings, although the spelling is in an original form. Somewhat later David Pitcaithly is recorded as 'marrying in Perth' in 1568, and in 1684 one David Pitcaithlie is recorded in the tax assessment register for Burnesyde. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Pencathlan, which was dated 1202, the Scottish charter lists of the 13th century, during the reign of King William, known as 'The Lyon of Scotland', 1165 - 1214. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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