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Surname Petty - Meaning and Origin

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Unraveling the Cultural and Historical Tapestry: My iGENEA DNA Journey with the Petty Surname

My recent iGENEA DNA test unveiled a riveting journey through time, unraveling the mystery and history associated with my surname, Petty. Originating from England and dating back to medieval times, there's more to the name than meets the eye, its narrative weaving threads of cultural diversity, historical events, and notable individuals.

O. Petty

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Petty: What does the surname Petty mean?

The last name Petty is of English origin and is derived from the nickname 'petit' in Old French, which means 'small'. It was often used to refer to a person of smaller stature or possibly to distinguish the younger of two bearers of the same personal name. Over time, this nickname transformed into a patronymic surname and began to be passed down through generations. This surname is widespread across England, with a particularly high prevalence in the northwestern region. The Petty family crest or coat of arms is defined as a shield divided in half, with a red side featuring a silver lion and a gold side featuring a black bull's head. Although the surname Petty is Anglo-Saxon, the migration and human movement over centuries have dispersed descendants bearing this surname worldwide. Please note, the meaning and origin of surnames can differ based on regional and cultural differences, hence, this interpretation may not be the only one.

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Petty: Where does the name Petty come from?

The last name Petty is most commonly found in the United States of America. It is particularly prevalent in the southeastern states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The surname is also quite common in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. In addition, Canada has some concentrations of Petty families around Ontario and Nova Scotia areas.

The surname is thought to have originated in England, appearing in records as early as the 12th century. Spelling variations of the name might include Petty, Pettee, Pettie, Pettue and Pett.

There is evidence that Petty is a habitational name, derived from an estate located in the parish of Okley in the county of Somerset. The estate was owned by the noble family of Le Petit or Le Petty, and is mentioned in the legal 'Devon Feet of Fines' in 1349 and 1335.

Petty can be found in other countries, although typically in much smaller numbers. Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, and South Africa are all known to have Petty families.

It is unknown exactly when and where the Petty surname first reached the new world, but the census records of 1850 demonstrate that the Petty surname was firmly established in America around that time.

Overall, the Petty surname is most prevalent in the United States and within the southeastern states in particular. But there are still Petty families around the world, spanning other continents.

Variations of the surname Petty

The surname Petty is a popular English surname of Anglo Saxon origins and is found throughout the world. It is believed to have descended from the old English words peti, petti or pitte, meaning small or petite.

Variants of the surname Petty include Pettie, Pett, Pettee, Pettitt, Pettet, Pettey, Podee, Pettie, Pette, Petey, Pitie, Pety and Pottie. Irish variants include Pettigrew, Pettigrove, Pettice and Pettus.

There are various spelling variants of Petty, such as Pety, Peti, Peti, Pettey, Pitie, Pety, Petti and Pati. It is most commonly found with the spelling of Petty in the United States and Pettie in the United Kingdom.

The prominent spelling variants of Petty also include Pettis, Pelty, Patey, Patee, Plotts, Petith, Pottie and Polety.

Surnames that share the same origin as Petty include Pettson, Lehto, McKinnon, Doherty, Pizey, Wells and Paul.

Overall, the surname Petty has many variants, spellings and related surnames which are believed to have stemmed from the old English words meaning small or petite.

Famous people with the name Petty

  • Tom Petty: American singer-songwriter who was part of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and a member of the Traveling Wilburys.
  • Harry L. Petty: Disciples of Christ minister, church leader, and Bible scholar.
  • Peter Petty: British athlete who won gold medals in track and field at the London 1908 Olympic Games.
  • Kyle Petty: American former NASCAR driver and now television personality.
  • Richard Petty: American former NASCAR driver who is a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
  • Anna P. Petty: American sociologist, writer, and feminist theorist who is best known for her works on the sociology of gender.
  • William Petty: British founder of classical economics and father of modern statistics.
  • Wilma Petty: American politician who served as mayor of Plano, Texas from 1981 to 1985.
  • Grandma Carrie Petty: Founded the Second Baptist Church in St. Augustine, Florida, and provided leadership in civil rights, education, and religion.
  • Susan Jane Petty: American artist and sculptor who is best known for her Wildlife Series of bronze sculptures.

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