This famous surname, one of the most important in British history, is recorded in several spellings including Pitt, Pitts, Pett, Petts, and Pott. It is topographical, and derives from the pre 7th century Olde English word "pytt" meaning a pit or hollow, and hence was given to a person who lived or worked by such a place. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, both natural and man-made features in the landscape providing easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In this case the name may also be locational from one of the places named Pitt or Pett in the counties of Hampshire and Sussex. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century, and early recordings include Thomas de la Pitte in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset in 1225, and Roger de Petts in the London rolls of 1276. Other interesting recordings of the surname showing its development over the centuries include William Bitheputte of Somerset in 1277, Johan atte Pitte of Surrey in 1294, and Thomas in the Pyt of Worcestershire, in 1300. The most famous of the namebearers was probably William Pitt, known as "The Younger" (1759 - 1806), second son of William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham. He was the youngest ever prime minster of England, from 1783 to 1801, and elected again from 1804 to 1806. He died in office shortly after the battle of Trafalgar. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geruase de la Puette. This was dated 1182, in the Pipe Rolls of Sussex, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England. 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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