This ancient English surname is unusual in that it has a female origin. It derives from the pre 8th century female personal name 'Matilda'. 'Matilda' translates as 'the mighty battle maid', a striking description which no doubt accounted for much of its popularity in the period known as the "Dark Ages", that is to say before the Norman Conquest of 1066, and before the introduction of surnames. Matilda was so popular that it rapidly developed many short or nickname forms. These include Tilda, Tilla and Tulla, and these became surnames in their own right. As part of the surname development diminutives such as "Petit Till" (Tillett) or Petit Tull (Tullett), followed closely afterwards. Early examples of the recordings include George Tillote of the county of Suffolk in the year 1303, and John Tillet of Suffolk in 1685. Joseph Tullet emigrated to the new colony of Virginia in 1635, making him one of the earliest of recorded settlers in the New World. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of George Tillote which was dated 1279 The Pipe Rolls of Oxford during the reign of King Edward I The Hammer of the Scots 1272-1307 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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