Dyett is probably derived from Dye + the French diminutive suffix -et (from petit, meaning small). Dye itself is from the medieval given name Dionisia (male form Dionysius, who was the Greek god of wine). Dyett might have French Huguenot origins: this is unproved.
In 1881 the Dyetts are concentrated in the Bournemouth and Dorchester districts, with some in neighbouring Southampton and in the west of London (Slough) and Essex (Southend-on-Sea). Between then and 1998 more moved towards London and the southeast - significant numbers turn up in Hertfordshire (Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage) and Kent (Canterbury) - whilst in Dorset numbers plummet and the Hampshire Dyetts are reduced. I suspect that many Dyett families from rural Dorset have ended up in the Broadstone (Poole) area, as this is the postal town with the greatest concentration in 1998.
There is a major increase in Dyetts in Greater London, mainly in the North London and Twickenham districts. As with many previously country-based families, the greater employment opportunities in the capital was presumably the lure.
Statistically the name has increased in frequency (268 in 1998 from 136 in 1881) and become more common compared with other surnames (13,906th in 1998 from 15,692nd in 1881) - still not a very common name though, only 7 in 1 million people carry this name.
The Dyetts are a bit of a mystery to me, as I never knew my mother and of course never met her parents or siblings.
My branch of the family appears to have been located in the Lymington-New Milton area since at least the early 19th century, but I have drawn a blank before that. My mother's generation lived in Barton Common. The men were generally agricultural labourers and gardeners: my uncle Walter was gardener and general handyman at Durlston Court School from 1914 to his retirement (with time off for a couple of wars), and his father was gardener at Becton House. A number of the ladies had children without the inconvenience of marriage - including my mother, my great grandmother, and great-great grandmother. This means there are missing pieces to my puzzle, as their partners are not recorded.
Go to this page for my mother's story.
My mother, Annie May Dyett
However, my great grandmother Ann Eliza Dyett did marry after my grandfather was born, and had a number of other children. The family emigrated to Argentina in 1889 (but without my grandfather who remained in England to be brought up by his grandparents), on board the MV City of Dresden. Most of the rest of the passengers were Irish, from Cork, who had been promised land and jobs on arrival in Buenos Aires - neither of which eventuated. This scam was engineered by two unscrupulous operators, and many fell on very hard times. The incident became quite famous, and led to the abolition of organized emigration. More on this in Michael Geraghty's excellent article. I have still to trace the descendants of my great grandmother's second family in Argentina.
MV City of Dresden1
1 Courtesy Ambrose Greenway collection, with kind permission of Carmania Press to Peter Mulvany, via http://www.irishargentine.org/dresden.htm