Versions of the Doult surname – Dalt, Dolt, Dalts, Dolte, Doolt, Doulte, Dould, Dowlte, – can be traced back through at least four and a half centuries – many located within just a few short miles of each other.
As of now the earliest evidence of the "Doult" spelling goes back to the early 17th century. Curiously this version of the surname occurs in both England and France but there is currently no evidence as to whether this is due to actual blood links or mere coincidence.
Certainly as far as the English family is concerned, the oldest reference found so far go back to 1450 with the birth of William Dolte at Rickmansworth.
Though spellings vary substantially, one consistency emerges from the records – the region of England where various branches of the family were hatched, matched and despatched.
Overwhelmingly these were the towns, villages and hamlets of Hertfordshire along with a spread into the neighbouring counties of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamsire.
In Hertfordshire over the centuries the county's parish records chronicle the family's births and marriages in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Abbots Langley, Aldbury, Berkhampstead, Tring, Watford ... and of course Rickmansworth.
But there were also substantial numbers next door in Buckinghamshire with branches from at least 1473 and records of the family in Astin Clinton, Slapton, Steeple Claydon, Ivinghoe and Auldbury
Immediately to the south of Hertfordshire, in Bedfordshire, starting from at least 1608, branches of the family living were living in Chalgrave, Luton, Husborne Crawley, Hockliffe and Toddinton. Again with the name spelt in various ways.
Also by 1575 members of the family had reached to within a few miles north of London for that was when Awdrey Dolt was Christened at Harrow-on-the Hill.
One apsect of this variation in spelling was that sometimes it happened even when different records clearly referred to the same individual. But of course decisions as to how names were spelt usually rested with the local Vicar whose responsibilities included writing the parish records.
At present the earliest known versions of the name spelt as "Doult" was at Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire in 1616. That year recorded both the Christening of Richard Doult on the 2nd Febuary and the marriage of Alice Doult to John Harrison on the 28th October.
By the 1620s the Doult version of the name was appearing regularly in parish records with the Christening of Marie Doult on the 17th October 1624 at Hemel Hempstead, the following month the marriage of Sara Doult to John Walker also at Hemel Hempstead on the 9th November 1624.
Two years later recorded the Christening of Willm. Doult, son of Willm. Doult at Hemel Hempstead on the 1st September 1626 with the Christening of Wm. Dolte, son of Richard Dolte on the 16th December 1629 ... again in Hemel Hempstead.