Origins Of the PLATT Name
From the December 1999 Platt Newsletter
By Richard N. Platt, Jr.
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Most researchers seem to think that the name originated in both Germany and England. Similar words appear in both German and English. The Latin word ‘plattus’ or “platus” indicates a flat, smooth body or surface, such as a plate or plat of land. Because the Roman Empire extended over much of Western Europe, Latin root words influenced the languages of most of these countries.
Some genealogical researchers think that the Platt name is Saxon, and would therefore have come into England around 500 AD with the Saxon invasions from the Saxe—Gotha region of Germany. When associated with a German origin, the earlier spelling of ‘Platz’ seems to have evolved into “Platts” in some cases.
“Plate,” “Platte,” and “de Platt” are other spellings that are also mentioned by researchers, the last of which might suggest a Norman, rather than Saxon, origin. The spelling “Platts” instead of “Platt” is found intermittently in the IGI for England in some of the same locales as those where “Platt” is listed. Indeed, a family of Platts (with the “s”) settled in Rowley, Massachusetts, in the mid-l7th century, coming from the Sowerby/Halifax area of Yorkshire. So far, we have been unable to find a connection between them and the Platt (without the “s”) family.
Another group with the spelling “Platts” is found in South Carolina, and the name seems to have been Platz prior to the American Revolution. The Platt family is also found there, and is noted in the south Carolina records as far back as 1721. No connection has yet been found with the Platt families of Milford, CT or Burlington, NJ. Similarly, a Frederick Platt(s) settled in Killingworth, CT in the mid-1600’s, confusing Charles Platt, Jr., in his 1963 Genealogy. Charles conjectured that he was a grandson of Isaac2 of Huntington, NY. But Frederick was German in origin, and his name may have originally been Platz. Some of his descendants still live in the area, and they have used the Platt spelling for many generations.
It is thought that the English name “Platt” refers to the flat region of northwestern England between the hills of Wales and the Yorkshire area around the Lancaster, Cheshire, and Manchester areas, where it is believed that the Platt name first appeared. While some of the name have been found in nearby Derbyshire, the biggest concentration seems to have been found in the area of Manchester eastward to the Lancashire/Yorkshire border area, Saddleworth and Oldham in particular. Some Platts from this area are thought to have later moved to the London, Hertfordshire, Essex region. My Platts (immigrant Richard Platt (1604—1685)) came from Ware, Herts., and his wife, Mary Wood, from Roydon, Essex. They settled in Milford, Conn. in 1639. Descendants of Richard constitute the largest Platt family in the USA and this family has spread throughout the country and into Canada and Mexico. We have not yet been able to determine the origins of the Thomas Platt of Burlington, NJ family, or if it has a connection with the Richard Platt family.
Thanks to Betsy Platt Waters of Charleston, SC for providing much of the information for this article