There are some surnames that are in fact rare, but because of one name holder who has an international reputation, the name is well known. Presley is a good example, and Pitney is another. The place name and hence the surname is locational from a hamlet called Pitney in the county of Somerset, and near the town of Langport. Pitney is first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 in the spelling of Petenie. The meaning is obscure, except that suffix ending does mean "island." It is unlikely to mean "pit island" and the prefix is probably the ancient personal name "Petta" to give Petta's island. Langport was once accessible to the sea, but the whole area was drained in the 17th century, which may account for people leaving Pitney. Locational surnames were usually given to people as an easy idenrification of a stranger, after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. We are uncertain when this was, but we do know that what seems to be a family group of Pitney's were amongst the early emigrants to the British American Colonies in the time of King Charles 1st. These were Sara and Margaret Pitney, also spelt Pittnei, apparently two sisters and possibly twins as they were both twenty two, and two children Samuel aged one and Sara seven, also both called Pitney. They all left London on the ship Planter on April 17th 1635 bound for New England..
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