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Surname Pettus - Meaning and Origin

all surnames with 'P'

Pettus: What does the surname Pettus mean?

The surname Pettus is of English origin, derived from the Old French "petit" meaning "small" or "little." It was often used as a nickname for a man who was small in size or status, or as an affectionate term for a younger family member. Over time, this nickname evolved into a surname. The name is first recorded in England in the 12th century. Families with this surname can predominantly be found in Norfolk and London. Notably, along with its various spellings, the name has been held by several prominent figures in American history, such as Senator Edmund Pettus, a significant figure of Confederate history for whom the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama is named.

Pettus: Where does the name Pettus come from?

The last name Pettus is most commonly seen in the United States today. An analysis of the 2019 United States census found that it is particularly prevalent in the southeastern United States.

In the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, the name Pettus is among the twenty most common surnames, respectively. Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia each come in close behind, with estimates of well over 1,000 households with the Pettus surname each.

Pettus families can also be found in other states, though the prevalence decreases by state. Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana all have between 400 and 500 households with the Pettus surname. Smaller numbers can be found in North Carolina, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and the remaining states.

When it comes to where the Pettus surname is most common today, the southeastern U.S. stands out. From Alabama to Kentucky to the panhandle of Florida, the name has remained popular and a part of the communities in the region for generations.

Variations of the surname Pettus

The surname Pettus is traditionally of English origin and can also be spelled 'Petus' as well as 'Pettiss', 'Petts' and 'Petuss.' Alternately, 'Pettes' is a variant found primarily in Scotland.

The origin of the surname Pettus is thought to be found in the Old French 'petit', meaning 'small', which was a nickname given to someone of low stature. As such, the name is an example of an English 'nickname'surname; it was adopted by the individual as a mark of identification and was passed down to succeeding generations.

The first recorded spelling of the surname appears in accounts dating back to 1296, when John Petit was noted in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. These early records are also found in various counties in the south east of England as well as counties further north like Nottingham and Lincoln, suggesting the surname was established in various areas of England.

The chances of finding a missing Pettus ancestor can be increased by also searching for the variants mentioned above. Various online archives hold documents which may contain a record of Pettus ancestors including parish records, tax returns and military and estate records. Others may be found through census records.

In modern times, the surname Pettus is still widely used in England and can also be found in countries where English people have settled and migrated, particularly in America. As such, contemporary records may also provide clues to tracing a Pettus ancestor.

Famous people with the name Pettus

  • Tyrell Pettus: Tyrell Pettus is an American actor, writer, and producer. He is best known for his starring role in the 2020 Netflix original film, "The Old Guard".
  • George Pettus: George Pettus is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist who is best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the blues rock band called “The Plow.”
  • Bill Pettus: Bill Pettus is a former professional American football player who was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1968 NFL Draft.
  • Jimmy Pettus: Jimmy Pettus is an American mixed martial artist and former professional boxer.
  • Ruth Pettus: Ruth Pettus was the first African-American woman to be elected to the Georgia General Assembly.
  • Brad Pettus: Brad Pettus is an American screenwriter and television writer, best known for his work on the TV series, “Grey’s Anatomy.”
  • Lucetta Pettus: Lucetta Pettus was a prominent African-American businesswoman and organization leader from Greensboro, North Carolina during the late 19th century.
  • Doc Pettus: Doc Pettus was an American Buffalo Soldier who made a name for himself fighting on the western frontier during the 19th century.
  • Baron Pettus: Baron Pettus is a Grammy Award-winning American record producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.
  • Wilbur Pettus: Wilbur Pettus was an American football coach in the early 20th century. He was the head football coach for the Bard Eagles of Bard College in Poughkeepsie, New York from 1915 to 1916.

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