This interesting and unusual surname is a variant of Waite, which is an English occupational name for a watchman, introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066, and derived from the Old Norman French "waite", Old French "guait". The name applied specifically to a watchman in either a fortified place or a town. The singers and musicians of the Christmas "Waits" today carry on the tradition of the Waits of medieval England who combine the duties of watchman and musicians. "At the last he came to a Castel and there he herd the waytes upon the wallys", Malory, "Le Morte Arthur", 1485. In the modern idiom, there are more than fifteen possible spellings of the name ranging from Waith, Waite, Wayt, Weight, and Waight to Whate. Among the recordings in London is the christening of Francis, son of William and Alice Weight, on March 11th 1631 at St. Olave's, Silverstreet, and the marriage of Henry Weight and Elizabeth Jefferes on July 8th 1639 at Stepney. A Coat of Arms granted to the family consists of a silver shield, a black chevron between three bugle horns stringed black, garnished gold, the crest being a bugle horn and the motto: Pro aris et focis, translating as 'For our altars and our homes'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger le Wayte, which was dated 1221, in the County Records of Suffolk (Ely), during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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