This interesting name is of Old French origin, introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066, and has two possible interpretations. The name derives from the Old Norman French "waite", Old French "guaite, gaite", watchman, in Anglo-Norman French "waite", and may originally have been either an occupational name for a watchman, in a fortified place or a town, or from the term's abstract or collective sense, an occupational surname for someone who formed part of "the watch", the group of men employed to guard the town and its people. The town waits combined the functions of watchmen and musicians, since they used to sound a horn or play a tune to mark the passing hours; the household expenses of Edward 1V (1461 - 1483) provide for "A wayte, that nightleye from Mychelmas to Shreve Thorsdaye pipe the watche withen this courte ...". Whaites is one of the patronymic forms of the surname from this source; others are Wait(e)s, Wa(y)tes, Whaits and Gaites. Recordings of the name from Yorkshire Church Registers include the marriage of John Whaites and Agnes Hudson on May 13th 1571, at Howden, and the christening of Jane Whaites in St. Peter's, Leeds, on April 4th 1574. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ailward Waite, which was dated 1170 - 1187, in "Early London Personal Names", by Ekwall, 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