Who We Are
What We Offer
Guest Book
World of Trotts
Distribution Maps
DNA Project
Noteable Trotts

Ì Family Name History Ì

It is generally accepted that the rise in surnames was due to the Norman Conquest, when the new Christian names introduced by the Normans superseded the Old  English personal names; but it was inevitable with the growth in population, and as one or other Christian name became extremely common, that a surname be used for official records, to avoid long descriptions attached to the personal name.  Surnames can generally be divided into four groups; the locative name, indicating the place of origin of the bearer; the patronymic, where the father's first name was used as the last name of the son; occupational, or trade names; and the oldest of surnames, nicknames which describe appearance or temperament.

Hereditary surnames existed among Norman noblemen early in the 12th century; among people in general they came into use in the 13th, by the end of which they were in fairly common use.  By the end of the 14th century almost everyone had a hereditary surname. 

The English surname Trott is patronymic in origin, being one of those surnames derived from the first name of the father.  Thus the name means "son of Troit" or Trote or Troyt.  These personal names are one of the forms of Trude, found in such compounds as Ger-trude or Hil-trude and were formerly names in themselves.  The surname finds its source in the Old French to "trot", or in the sense of "trotter, messenger" or "runner".  Thus the name may originally have been of occupational origin, being applied to one who was a messenger.  The final source is in the Old French "trote" meaning a "hag" or "crone" and may have been used as a nickname, which then developed into the surname Trott.  The name takes also the forms Troate, Trood, Trout and Trodd.  It is found frequently in the Exchequer Lay Subsidies, county Somerset, around the time of Edward the third, and is still common there in various forms.


Seems to be a variant of TROTT, and predominates in the counties of Devon, Somerset and Dorset where it probably originated when few people were able to read and write, and the Clergy wrote details into Parish Registers the way they sounded. In these areas of the West Country, TROTT was often pronounced in the local accent as TRART, and one can therefore see how easy it is for the variant to occur. TRATT and TROTT can often be found to be interchangeable even within the same generation of a family. This explains why the demography of the two names is almost identical. 

This archaic spelling has now largely gone out of use. The TROTTE variant probably started in early Somerset, But as families moved into Devon, Scribes who wrote documents such as Wills in Devon started to drop the silent 'E' as the had no prior practice of how the name was spelt. In early Devon, TROTTE is evident but by the end of the 1600's its use had ceased in Devon. There is evidence of this change in TROTTE families originating in Somerset, moving into Devon and within a generation or two their name was TROTT. 

Around 1640, members of a Trott family who originated in the Taunton area of Somerset emigrated to the USA and settled in the Wethersfield area. Either on arrival, or a short time after, for reasons still not clear, one of them changed his name to TREAT and created quite a famous line. In the same town, at the same time, lived some people in the name Trott and it would seem likely that the two groups were closely related although this potential link  has also eluded our research successes. 

The name is very rare other than in the USA, and there is a Treat Family Association (based in the USA) with which we once had a close relationship, but this has waned since new officers of the latter took on posts within the Association despite our attempts to foster the links. 

The TRETT name appears predominantly in East Anglia, particularly in Blofield, Witton and Norwich  in Norfolk along with  Brandon in Suffolk . Research suggests that there is in fact no link between TROTT and TRETT, with the latter having probably originated in Scandinavia and having arrived in the Norse invasions or similar. As we originally thought the two names were linked, TONRG continues to represent the variant until such time as someone wishes to form an individual One Name Group in the Trett name. 

Although TONRG does not represent these names, we do have a close tie up with the Trout Association, attending each others ‘Gatherings’ as well as exchanging newsletters and data with them. Interestingly, the demography is very similar to the links between Trott and Tratt, although no hard evidence has so far been unearthed of any direct connection other than what seems to be spelling mistakes.  In the West Country the same phonetic pronunciation may be the reason for this, but this is unlikely to be the cause of incidences in such places as Yorkshire, London, and East Anglia.

Next Page