This interesting and unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical surname for someone who lived by a landing-place, on the banks of a river or estuary, on the shore. The name derives from the Old English pre 7th Century word 'staeth', in Middle English 'staith(e)', landing-place. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since either natural or man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names for people in small medieval communities. The surname development includes Ambrose Steatt (1640, Devon), Alice Stait (1662, Lincolnshire), Jonathan Steight (1674, London) and Sara Steat (1768, Yorkshire). The modern surname can be found as Staite, Stait and State. The marriage of Mary Staite and Thomas Wakeford was recorded at East Lavant in Sussex on June 11th 1722. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mary State (marriage to Anker Cooke), which was dated July 9th 1585, at Canterbury, Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as '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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