Recorded in a number of forms including Stait, Staite, Staithe, Stayt, Steight and State, this is an English surname. It is or was, a topographical surname for someone who lived by a landing-place, on the banks of a river or estuary. The name derives from the Old English pre 7th Century word 'staeth', in Middle English 'staithe', meaning a pier or wharf. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since either natural or man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names for people in small medieval communities. The surname development includes Ambrose Steatt of Devon in 1640, Alice Stait of Lincolnshire in 1662, Jonathan Steight of London in 1674, and Sara Steat of Yorkshire in 1768.. An early example taken from surviving church registers is that of the marriage of Mary Staite and Thomas Wakeford at East Lavant in the county of Sussex on June 11th 1722. On of the fhe first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Benedict Stay of Worcester in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of 1275. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was often known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.