This interesting and unusual surname has two distinct possible origins. Firstly, it may be a patronymic from the Anglo-Norman French "waite", itself coming from the Old French "quaite" or "gaite", watchman, and originally given as an occupational name to a watchman in a town or fortified place. Early recordings of the surname from this source include: Ralph la Waite, in the 1202 Curia Regis Rolls of Hampshire; Hugh le Weyt (Staffordshire, 1251); Roger le Wate (Sussex, 1296); and Adam le Whaite, in the Calendar of Letter Books for Gloucestershire, dated 1349. The second possibility is that the name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hwoete", wheat (a derivative of "hwit", white, because of it's use in making white flour), and originated as a metonymic occupational name for a grower or seller of wheat. One Bernard Wete was noted in the 1180, Records of Holme, Norfolk, and a William Wheate was recorded in the 1563 Sheffied Manorial Records. The final "s" on the name indicates the patronymic, and is a reduced form of "son of". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Isabell What(t)es, which was dated May 29th 1577, marriage to John Dobson, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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