This common English and Scottish surname of LITTLE was brought to Ireland, and particularly to Ulster, where many families of the name are found in County Fermanagh, by settlers. The name is used as a synonym by translation to Petty or Petit. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. 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. Early records of the name mention Eadric Litle, 972, County Northumberland. Lefstan Litle was documented in County Suffolk in 1095, and Thomas le Lytle, 1296, County Surrey. From about the year 1820 there has been a fairly constant influx of natives of Ireland into the southwest of Scotland, especially in the shires of Lanark, Renfrew, Ayr and Galloway. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century and since, the influx has much increased. This surname was a nickname for one of small stature. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans.
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