This surname LAIT was of the locational group of surnames 'the dweller at the lathe' i.e. the barn or homestead. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name appears to have arrived in England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066, and members of the name settled in Cornwall, the name there meaning 'one who was a dairy farmer'. Early records of the name mention Sibota at Layte, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Richard Laite of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Most of the place-names that yield surnames are usually of small communities, villages, hamlets, some so insignificant that they are now lost to the map. A place-name, it is reasonable to suppose, was a useful surname only when a man moved from his place of origin to elsewhere, and his new neighbours bestowed it, or he himself adopted it. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. John Russell and Anne Laight were married at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in the year 1746.
The name has many variant spellings which include Layte, Layt and Lait. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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