Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Leet Name
Origins of Leet:
This unique surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is either a geographical name from a home by a lake or water area. It acquired from the Olde English pre 7th Century “(ge)laet”, which means passage, canal, or a geographical name from any of the little places named with this word, like Leat in Devonshire, or The Leete in Essex. Geographical surnames were created in ancient times, they provided easily identifiable outstanding names in the small towns of the Middle Ages. Geographical names were frequently given to local landholders, and the kings of the palace, and especially as a source of recognition to those who departed from their mother town to settle to any other place. In the year 1330, one John atte Lete was noted in “Place Names of Devonshire”, and in August in the year 1594, Joyce Leete and Mark Newcome married at St. Botolph’s, Colchester, Essex. In the new era, the name has six spelling variations like Leat(e), Leet(e), Leatt and Leates. A Royal Symbol gave to the Leete family of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, is a silver shield.
More common variations are: Leete, Leeto, Leety, Leeta, Leett, Leeti, Leyet, le Et, Leedt, Lewwt.
The surname Leet first appeared in Cambridge where there is some argument over the origin of the name. One reference shows the name is a location name meaning “a meeting of turning point” as in “court-leet and borough-leet,” while another shows the name was an introduction name “the son of Lettice” (Latin laetitia, gladness) from the nickname Lete. Lettice was a very famous girl’s name in its day but was less by the late 1800s. Inattentive of the origin, the first documents of the name were in Cambridge where Letia (no surname) was recorded there in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. The same rolls list Nicolas filius Lete in Bedfordshire, Walter Lete in Suffolk and Roge Lete in Oxfordshire.
The very first recording spelling of the family was shown to be that of William Lete, dated about 1279, in the “Assize Court Rolls of of Somerset.” It was during the time of King Edward I, who was known to be the “The Hammer of the Scots,” dated 1272-1307. The origin of surnames during this period became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation. It came to be known as Poll Tax in England. Surnames all over the country began to develop, with unique and shocking spelling varietions of the original one.
Many of the people with surname Leet had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.
United States of America:
Some of the people with the surname Leet who arrived in the United States in the 17th century included Mr. Leet, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in the year 1624. William Leet, who arrived in New England in the year 1637. Samuel Leet, who landed in Maryland in 1664. Andrew Leet, who arrived in New England in the year 1678.
Some of the individuals with the surname Leet who landed in Australia in the 19th century included Mary Ann Leet arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship “Constance” in the year 1848.
Some of the population with the surname Leet who arrived in New Zealand in the 19th century included George Leet at the age of 29, Jane Leet, John Leet, Mary Leet and Jane Leet, all arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship “Hurunui” in the same year 1877.
Here is the population distribution of the last name Leet: United States 2,370; Canada 213; Australia 199; Estonia 169; England 167; Russia 62; Singapore 41; Sweden 29; New Zealand 24; Nethenands 13.
Isaac Leet (1801–1844), was an American political leader.
Mildred Robbins Leet (1922–2011), was an American businessman.
William Knox-Leet (1833–1898), was an Irish Victoria Cross recipient.
Leet Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Leet blazon are the matches, lamp, fesse and martlet. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and argent.
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” . Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron , perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) . In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper .
Although we expect to find fierce creatures and fearsome weapons depicted in a coat of arms this is not always the case – sometimes simple household objects are used . The ENTRY is a typical example of this. Sometimes these objects were chosen for the familiarity they would have for the obsever, helping them identify the owner, and sometimes they were used because of some association with the owner, or a similarity to the family name.
Although we expect to find fierce creatures and fearsome weapons depicted in a coat of arms this is not always the case – sometimes simple household objects are used . The (domestic, not street!) lamp is a typical example of this. Sometimes these objects were chosen for the familiarity they would have for the obsever, helping them identify the owner, and sometimes they were used because of some association with the owner, or a similarity to the family name.
The fesse (also found as fess) is one of the major ordinaries to found in heraldry, being a bold, broad, horizontal band across the centre of the shield. It may originally have arisen from the planks of which a wooden shield can be constructed, the centremost plank being painted a different colour . It is instantly recognisable as a symbol, for example the arms of COLEVILLE granted during the reign of Hery III are simply or, a fesse gules. With this clear association with the construction of the shield itself, Wade believes that the fesse can be taken to be associated with the military, as a “girdle of honour”.