Origins of Name:
The Little surname is one of the oldest surnames from England. It dates as far back as ancient times when it was a personal name of affection. The meaning of the surname was “Little man”. In medieval times it retained this name of affection. However, quite the contrary it meant the opposite of little. The famous outlaw Robin Hood tale contained someone nicknamed “Little John”, he was not small in stature at all. He was called little because in fact he was a giant man. His long bow was reported to be seven feet in length. It was kept for many years at the infamous Bolton Arms, at Bolton Abbey, in Wharfedale, Yorkshire.
The name was also used to describe the younger of two containing the same surname. In modern times this would be similar to using the name “junior” to describe someone who was the son of someone who had the same name.
The Irish version of the name in Gaelic is O Beagain, meaning ‘descendant of Beagan’.
The French would have their own variation of the name also. Petit and Lepetit or “the little one” were French versions of the surname. Jean Petit would translate to “little John”.
More common variations are:
Lyttle, Littell, Lytle, Lytell, Littley, Littlle, Llittle, Littile, Liettle, Liittle, Littlee, Littleh, Littlie, Wlittle
The first known recorded spelling of the family name was in 972 for Eadric Little in the register of Old English Bynames. This was recorded in the county of Northamptonshire.
In 1202 Richard de Lidel was recorded in Roxburghshire where he held grant of lands from the Church of Largs.
The Little clan was spread among the banks of the River Esk and part of Ewarsdale. Neighbors of the Little clan were Elliots, Beatties, and Armstrongs.
An early example of this surname was Thomas Lytle in 1296 in Sussex in the Subsidy Tax roll.
In 1376, Adam Lityll was a tenant of the Douglas Clan in the barony of Kilbucho. Eventually a branch of the Little clan would move north to Aberdeen. However, the main clan would stay near to Roxburghshire. By 1350 the Little clan had become well established and closely affiliated to the Douglas clan. The territories would go as far north as the Scottish West Marches, over 20 miles north of Carlisle.
John Little and his wife Jane Little would emigrate to the New World English colonies. In 1678 they were recorded in the parish of Christchurch, Barbadoes.
The origin of the Little name in Scotland can be found along the Scottish borders when the English clan moved north. Little was originally written as “parvus” in Latin documents, also translated to little or small. Since the name is a descriptive one, there is no clear origin of the Little name in Scotland.
By the year 1300, the Little clan had made a home in Dumbriesshire. Nicol Little was recorded as a conservator of the peace along the Scottish-English border.
Simon Lytil was given tenure of quite a few lands. Meikledale, Sorbie and Kirtoun in Ewesdale by the Duke of Albany, Robert Stewart. By 1426 the grant was officially confirmed. Simon Little, the 1st Laird of Meikledale is widely considered to be the first chief of the clan Little.
Clan Little famously fought alongside William Wallace to push the English out of Scotland and eventually gain its independence. The name in Scotland was also associated with a “little clan”. The main source of income for the Little clan in Scotland was stealing horses from the English on the other side of the border.
In the 16th century, the Armstrong clan rose to power, and they were famously reported as being able to gather over three thousand horsemen. Of which included the Little clan.
By the 18th century, David Little was the last in the line to be Laird of Meikledale. The lairdship would pass to Thomas Beattie following the pacification of the border, and David was given work as a groom at Windsor Castle.
United States 113,994
South Africa 4,493
New Zealand 2,312
Ian Little (b. 1973), Scottish football player
Bryan Little (b. 1978), Scottish football player
Roy Little (1931-2015), English football manager
Mr. George Little, English Engineer from Liverpool, England
Mrs. Margaret Little (d. 1915), sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania
Miss Alice Laura Little (d. 1915), sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania
Mr. Francis Donald Little (1917-1941), British Marine