This unusual and interesting name is of Medieval English origin and is an occupational surname for a person who split the timbers used in boatbuilding, an important medieval occupation, which was widespread in the Medway on the coast of Kent. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century "spillan", to destroy, or the Old High German "Spaltan". to split. There are numerous recordings of this name in Kent, which supports this theory. Amongst the early sample recordings in Kent is the marriage between Arthur Spillet and Sarah Manasse or 24th June 1600 at St. George the Martyr, Canterbury, and the christening of William Spillett on August 5th 1683 at Tonbridge. Perhaps not surprisingly the name is also well recorded in the London area although in some unusual variant forms. These include Fulk Spalat, son of Tom Spalat, christened at St. Botolphs, Bishopgate, on February 10th 1678 and Susan Spellitt who married James Pledger at Shoreditch, on January 25th 1802. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Spylyt, which was dated November 1st 1566, Bearsted, Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "Good Queen Bess", 1558-1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was 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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