Recorded in many forms as show n below, this is an English surname although of French origins. It is occupational and was originally a name for a member of the Watch, the early form of local police. Introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066, it is derived from the word "guait", and was applied specifically to a watchman in a fortified town. The singers and musicians of Christmas carols, in a sense today carry on the tradition of the 'Waits' of medieval England who often combined the duties of watchman and musicians."At the last he came to a Castel and there he herd the waytes upon the wallys", as taken from Malory's "Le morte d'Arthur", in the year 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 and Whayte. Amongst the recordings in the surviving registers of the city of London is the christening of Francis Weight, on March 11th 1631 at St. Olave's church, and the marriage of Henry Wayte and Elizabeth Jefferes on July 8th 1639 at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney. 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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