Show ContentsLyttle History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Although the most natural origin to attribute this name to is of the original bearer's diminutive size, and many genealogists make this error, the name is actually derived from the manor of Liddel, in Cumberland England.

Early Origins of the Lyttle family

The surname Lyttle was first found in Northumberland, England where Eadric Litle was listed as on Old English Byname in 972. From this early Saxon entry, we move to Suffolk to find Lefstan Litle listed at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk c. 1095. Later in Sussex, Thomas le Lytle was found in the Subsidy Rolls on 1296. [1]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had the following entries with older spellings: William le Letle, Oxfordshire; Wiscard Litil, Huntingdonshire; John le Litle, Berkshire; and Julian Litel, Cambridgeshire. All held land in their respective shires at that time. [2]

But Scotland is where the lion's share of the family claim descent. And there, the first record was of John Litill who served on an inquest at Lanark, 1313. An agreement was made between the abbot of Scone and Robertus dictus Lytil in 1332 and in 1351, Martin Litill, who witnessed a charter by William, dominus vallis de Ledell, of the lands of Abirdowyr in Fife is probably Martin Lytill who in 1358 possessed the land of Cardvyn. Nichol Litil was one of the 'borowis for the earl of Douglas's bounds of the West March in 1368 and Adam Lityll was a tenant of the Douglas in the barony of Kilbucho in 1376.

"The Littles occupied the lower part of Upper Eskdale and a portion of Ewesdale, and were recorded in 1587 as one of the unruly clans in the West March." [3]

The Little Clan territory followed the banks of the River Esk and part of Ewarsdale, and their immediate neighbors were the Armstrongs, Elliots and Beatties. Adam Lityll was a tenant of the Douglas Clan in the barony of Kilbucho in 1376. A branch also moved further northward to Aberdeen, but the main branch of the Clan remained around Roxburghshire.

By 1350, they had become an established Clan closely affiliated to the Douglases and their territories were located in the Scottish West Marches, approximately twenty miles due north of Carlisle.

Early History of the Lyttle family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lyttle research. Another 225 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1376, 1426, 1448, 1580 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Lyttle History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lyttle Spelling Variations

Spelling and translation were hardly exact sciences in Medieval Scotland. Sound, rather than any set of rules, was the basis for spellings, so one name was often spelled different ways even within a single document. Spelling variations are thus an extremely common occurrence in Medieval Scottish names. Lyttle has been spelled Little, Littel, Littell and others.

Early Notables of the Lyttle family

More information is included under the topic Early Lyttle Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Lyttle family to Ireland

Some of the Lyttle family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Lyttle migration to the United States +

Such hard times forced many to leave their homeland in search of opportunity across the Atlantic. Many of these families settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. The ancestors of many of these families have rediscovered their roots in the 20th century through the establishment of Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Among them:

Lyttle Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Eliza Lyttle, who arrived in America in 1805 [4]
  • Peggy Lyttle, who landed in America in 1805 [4]
  • Arthur Lyttle, aged 20, who immigrated to America from Derry, in 1893
  • Letitia Lyttle, aged 22, who immigrated to the United States from Derry, in 1893
  • Mary Lyttle, aged 24, who settled in America, in 1893
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lyttle Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Rebecca Lyttle, aged 22, who immigrated to the United States from Belfast, in 1902
  • Mary Lyttle, aged 61, who immigrated to the United States from Glasgow, in 1905
  • Francis Lyttle, aged 25, who immigrated to the United States from Belfast, Ireland, in 1906
  • Irene Lyttle, aged 8, who settled in America from Eredon, England, in 1907
  • Mary Lyttle, aged 39, who landed in America from Everton, England, in 1907
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Lyttle migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Lyttle Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Elizabeth Lyttle, aged 72, who immigrated to Regina, Canada, in 1909

Contemporary Notables of the name Lyttle (post 1700) +

  • James Lawrence Lyttle (b. 1946), American former Major League Baseball player
  • Marcia J. Lyttle, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Kings County 11th District, 1924 [5]
  • George H. Lyttle, American politician, Representative from Ohio 21st District, 1900 [5]
  • Carl Lyttle, American politician, Member of Kentucky State House of Representatives, 1938-39 [5]
  • David "Foggy" Lyttle (1944-2003), Irish guitarist, best known for his work with Van Morrison
  • Desmond Lyttle (b. 1971), English professional footballer
  • Sancho Lyttle (b. 1983), Spanish professional basketball player

The Lyttle Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Magnum in parvo
Motto Translation: Great things in a little

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 8) . Retrieved from on Facebook