The Tait and Tate Families of America


Meaning of Norse

For those of you who are interested in
what NORSE means the Dictionary list it as the following:

"Norse" adj. of Scandinavia or its inhabitants 
Norway * n the language of Norway "Norseman"  any 
of the ancient Scandinavian people, the VIKINGS


This article which comes from a book entitled, "Surnames of Scotland" by George F. Black,
PHD, pub. 1946. This is a direct copy of the text.

"Tait was originally a nickname. Bede, tells us that Ethelberga, daughter of Ethelbert, King of
Kent, was called 'Tate'(fem) and nine individuals named 'Tata'(masc.) are
recorded in Birch's Cartularium Saxonicum. The word, meaning 'glad'
or 'cheerful,' occurs in 'Old Norse', as teitr, and as a proper name, Teitr, occurs several
times in the Icelandic Landnamabok.

A debt due by the king is recorded paid to Thomas dictust Tayt in 1329.

Between 1362 and 1370 there were a number of entries of payment of pension to John Tayt,
Clerk, who appears to have been connected with the
hospital of Montrose. Alexander Tayt was burgess of Edinburgh,
1381. Adam Tayte who had a safe conduct to travel in
England in 1424, may be the Adam Tayt, scutifer, a charter witness in Paisley, 1432.

Andrew Tait was master of the Flesher Craft of Edinburgh,1490. And another
Andrew Tayt was one of the perambulators of the boundaries of
Yochry and Achbrady, 1492. Robert Tait was tenant of the land
of Wydsyd in 1532 (Rental), Christie Tett and Donald Taitt were tenants under
Abbey of Kelso,1567. The name also appears in Orkney in 1575.

A family of the name were proprietors of the barony of Charters in
1605, and Tait of Prin, an ancient family of Tweeddale, ended
in two heiresses, Margaret and Anne, one of whom married a Horsburgh of that Ilk.
Archibold Campbell Tait (1811-1822), born in Edinburgh, and became Archbishop of

1. Northumbria (aka Tate)
2. Tweed/Borders
3. Shetland/Orkneys

I also believe Tait meant "jolly" or "cheerful" in Old Norse so I presume the 3
sources are unrelated but derived from separate "nicknames".

I have the following information for Orkney/Shetland Taits which was researched by
Nicholas Cran-Sinclair

"Drawing on the available historical research sources such as Craven, Peterkin's Rentals.
J Clouston's Records of the Earldom of Orkney and Roland
William St Clair's The Clair of the Isles, these native
families of the Orkney and Shetland Islands (and, to a lesser extent, Caithness)
are the descendants of the Initial Norse Viking colonists who consolidated and extended
the Northern Territories of the Orcadian 'jarldom' under the
leadership of the family of Jarl Rognvald 'the Wise' of
Moeri and Rhomasdahl in Norway and, more particularly,
by his natural son, Jarl 'Turf' Einar - so-called because he taught people
how to burn peat.

The majority of these families have taken their names from their main place of residence
or land-ownership within the Northern Territories of either the Orkney or
Shetland Islands and I have, therefore, separated them into groups.

The first Group is of the senior native families whose ancestors were the significant land-holding
nobility of either Orcadian or Shetlander ruling assemblies or councils
(known as 'lawthing') and were regularly mentioned in the old records as 'gudmen'
(hereditary gentelemen odallers) lawrightmen' or 'lawrikmen' (regular parish district assizemen)
'lendirneb' (landed men) and 'roitmen' (hereditary odaller/council men)

These were, in alpahbetical order, Berstane, Clouston, Cragy (Craigie), Cromarty, Corrigal,
Flett, Heddle, HALCRO, Ireland, Kirkness, LINKLATER, Ness (later Petereson,
Petrie, Tulloch) Paplay, Rendall, Scarth (Formerly Harraldson/Bolt) Scalter and Yenstay.

The second Group is made up of the lesser native families of putative Norse Viking origin
whose profile became slightly more prominent after the 1470 - 1471
cession of the islands to the Scottish Crown and the subsequent tyrranical period
under the Stewart Earls of Orkney which was in dark and direct contrast to the
benevolent rule of the Sinclair 'Jarls' . This larger second Group included TAIT,"

A special Thanks goes to: 
Murry Tait and John S. Tait
Who gave us permisson on April 1, 2000 to have this
information placed on our site for the research of the Surname of Tait


The surname TATE is of patronymic origin, being derived from the first name of the
father of the initial bearer. In this instance, the name TATE is derived from either the
personal name TAIT
which derives from the Old Norse term "teitr" meaning "jolly or
cheerful" or from the old English term "tat" which some believe to
mean "dear". The first recorded bearer of the name TATE as a surname was one
Uluric Tates who was mentioned in the "Feudal documents from the Abby of Bury
Saint Edmunds" in the year1095.
In 1279 one Richard Tate appears in the Hundred Rolls for Comwall.

In Scotland the name was first recorded in the 14th century with a reference to one
Thomas dictus (called) Tayt, who was recorded in the
Exchequer Rolls of Scotland for the year 1329

Between 1362-1370 there are a number of payments
to John Tayt, a clerk, seemingly connected to the hospital of Montrose. Andrew Tait
was master of the Flesher craft of Edinburgh in 1490.
In Ireland bearers the name Tate are of either Scottish or English descent

The name in Ireland is mainly, although not exclusively found in the province of
Ulser in the north of the county where many of the people are descended from
the English and Lowland Scottish who were settled there during the Plantations of
the 17th century.

Notable bearers of the name Tate include Sir Henry Tate (1819-1899), first baron
of the name who patented a device for compressing sugar into cubes and who is responsible
for founding the Tate Gallery in London in 1897.

Also Nahum Tate (1652-1715), the  Irish poet who is credited with composingthe hymn
" While shepherds watched their flocks by night".

The arms were granted to the Tates of Drogheda (Ireland) by The Ulster Office in 1660
Blazon of Arms:   
  Per fess argent and gules; a pale
counterchanged three storks sable.    
A lion passant azure; charged on the
shoulder with a fleur-de-lis or.  
Thincke and Thancke
Think and Thank

Origin:   Scotland

The above records on the surname of TATE
was abstracted by:
Frances P. Limozaine
June 03, 2000




  Tait & Tate Families of America 1999-2004
Betty R. Brooks & Dixie Tait Kirton