Recorded in several spellings including Rait, Raitt, Rate, Rath, and Rayt, as well as Raitie, Raittie, Ratie, Reattie, Rettey and possibly others, this is a Scottish surname. It is locational either from Rait in Nairn and Perthshire, or Raith in Fifeshire and Ayrshire, or the estate known as the lands of Raittie in the parish of Innerboyndie, Banffshire. The derivation is from the pre 9th century Gaelic word "rath or rait", meaning a fortress, and sometimes with the diminutive suffix -ie to mean "little fort".During the Middle Ages when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Recordings of the surname from different parts of the United Kingdom include John de Raite, the bishop of Aberdeen in 1355, Andrew Rayt at Glasgow in 1487, and the christening of Marmaducus Rettey, on March 8th 1581, at Ripon in Yorkshire, England. According to Black's Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, the family of Rait and all that Ilk, took their name from the Castle Rait in Geddes, whilst the family of Rait of Hallgreen in Mearns traced their ancestry to "before 1470". The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Sir Gervase de Rathe, knight, and constable of Invernairn in 1292. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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