This interesting and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "hwit", (Middle English "whit"), meaning "white", which was originally given as a nickname to someone with fair or white hair, or someone of a pale complexion. The surname from this source was first recorded in the latter half of the 11th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Lluiaett Hwite, who witnessed King E(a)dgar's (1097 - 1107) charter of Coldingham (Scotland), and a Lewimis Wite, who appears in the Burton Chartulary of Staffordshire, circa 1114. In 1190, one Hugo Wit was recorded in the register of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. A second distinct possibility is that the name derives from the Olde English "wiht", meaning a bend or curve in a river or road, and in this case the name would have been topographical for someone who lived by such a place. The earliest recording from this source was that of Ralf de Wyte, who was listed as a witness in the 1279 Assize Court Rolls of Somerset. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as White, Whitt, Whyte, Witt, Witte and Witts. The marriage of Thomas Witts and Mary Lee was recorded at St. Leonard's, Eastcheap, London, on October 19th 1647. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alwin Wit, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Hampshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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