Recorded in a wide range of spellings including Spratt, Spritt, Sprott, Sprout, Sproat, and according to the International Genealogical Index, Sprade, Spread, Spride, and the diminutive Spriddle, whilst Spragg, Sprague, Sprake, Sprigg, Spriggin and Sprigens, all appear to be 'related', this is an English surname, although possibly one of Norman-French origins. It is apparently first recorded as a personal name only, there were few if any real surnames at that time, in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. This register lists all the known landowners of England, and includes one Sprot of Essex. A century later in 1175, the personal name appears again as Sprat de Spaldintona in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Yorkshire. As regards a meaning, it is probable that the derivation was from the pre 7th century word 'espirit', meaning an elf, or 'sprit' meaning a small pole, and used as a nickname for a slender person. As to how 'sprit' became Sproat, Sprague, Spread or Spriddle can only be explained by the fact that over the centuries writing and spelling were arts enjoyed by fewer than 5% of the population, whilst local accents were, and sometimes remain, thick and impenetrable to people from other areas. Early examples of recordings taken from surviving registers include Agnes Sprite of Yorkshire, in the Poll Tax Rolls of 1379, whilst recordings in the city of London include the christening of Raphe Spratt on September 14th 1551 at St. Antholin Budge Row, and the wedding of Joseph Sprade at Allhalllows church, London Wall, on August 10th 1684. The first recorded spelling of the family name in any form may be that of William Sprot. This was dated 1176, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Essex, 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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