This interesting name, widespread in Scotland and in the north of England, derives from the Old Norse "teitr" meaning "gay" and "cheerful", which was originally given as a nickname to one of cheerful disposition. A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, or to habits of dress. The personal name "Teitr" occurs several times in the 11th Century Icelandic "Landnameabok", and the surname was first recorded in England in the latter part of the 12th Century (see below). Other early recordings include: Robert Teyt in the 1279 Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, and Thomas Tayte, in the 1301 Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire. Thomas dictus (called) Tayt, recorded in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, has a debt due by the King paid to him in 1329, and one Andrew Tait was Master of the Flesher Craft of Edinburgh in 1490. A famous namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was Archibald Campbell Tait of Edinburgh (1811 - 1882), Archbishop of Canterbury (1869), of whom it was said, "No archbishop probably since the Reformation has so much weight in parliament or in the country generally". A Coat of Arms granted to the family is described thus: "Per fess gold and red a pale counterchanged, three Cornish choughs black. Crest - The stock of a tree couped and eradicated in fess green, between the branches thereof a fleur-de-lis gold". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Tait, which was dated 1185, in the "Knights' Templars Records of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017