The Petit family origins lie in Normandie France. “Petit”, the original spelling, means “little”in French. The first Petit mentioned in writing was Jean Petit, esquire, who attached himself to a court in 1259. One branch of the family stayed in or near Paris and was undoubtedly Catholic. Francois Petit of this branch was secretary to King Louis XIII in 1637. Petit‘s were prominent in France as botanists, physician, and surgeons; and others were sent on government missions to foreign countries.
Petits came from France to England early and settled first in Cornwall, later Kent, Essex, Sussex, Bedford, Oxford and Suffolk. A pedigree of the first Petit family in Cornwall gives twenty-four generations from 1272 to 1740 from Sir John Petit, Knight in the fourth generation, the title Sir was bourne by twelve generations. A John Petit was a London Alderman in the late sixteenth century.
The spelling of the name in England and America are, Pettit, Pettitt, Pittitt, Pettye, Petty, Pettet, Petyt, Petitt, Petit, Pettis and possible Pettee. There are often variations even in the same generation.