- Recorded in the spellings of Pitman, Pittman, Pettman and Putnam, this is an English surname. It is topographical for someone who lived by a pit or a hollow in the ground, perhaps a quarry, or in some cases was occupational for one who worked at such a place. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "pytt", pit, hole, cavity, which also appears, though rarely, in some English placenames, such as "Pett" in Kent, meaning "(place by) the pit or hollow", and "Woolpit" in Suffolk and in Surrey which have the picturesque meaning of "the pit for trapping wolves". Initially topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of medieval England. In the this case the surname became occupational and topographical, in that it gradually described both where a person lived and in this case the work they carried out. The suffix 'mann' used in this context describes one who worked in or perhaps owned a 'pit'. Early examples of the name recording include Johanes Pittman who married Alicia Spratt at the famous church of St. Martin in the Fields, London, on July 25th 1633, and Andrew Petman, who married at St Dionis Backchurch, London, on April 19th 1645. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Urban Piteman, which was dated 1203, a witness at the Assize Court of Northampton, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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