This surname LAWTY was of two-fold origin. It was of the locational group of surnames meaning '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'. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. Early records of the name mention Sibota at Layte who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379 and Richard Laite of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that 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. Later instances of the name mention John Russell and Anne Laight who were married at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in the year 1746.
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