Recorded as Pittam, Pittem, Pittyam, Pittham, Pitman, Pittman, Pettman, Putnam, and others, this is an English surname. It is residential and occupational for someone who lived by a pit or a hollow in the ground, perhaps a mine or quarry. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "pytt", meaning a cavity, which also appears, though rarely, in some English placenames, such as "Pett" in the county of Kent, meaning and "Woolpit" in Suffolk and in Surrey which have the picturesque meaning of "the pit for trapping wolves". Initially residential surnames were among the earliest created, as both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of medieval England. In the this case the surname also became occupational in that it gradually described both where a person lived and in this case the work they carried out. The suffix 'man(n)' in this context describes one who worked in or perhaps owned a 'pit'. Early examples of the name recording include Johanes Pittman who married Alicia Spratt at the famous church of St. Martin in the Fields, London, on July 25th 1633, and Jerhard Pittham who was christened at St Bartholomew the Great, on January 20th 1683. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Urban Piteman. This was dated 1203, when he was a witness at the Assize Court of Northampton, during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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