Last name: Cotter

This is an interesting example of an Old English status name, here from the Middle English word "cotter", a technical term of the feudal system for a serf or bond tenant, a villein who hold a cottage by labour-service rather than by paying rent. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century word "cot", meaning cottage or hut and the term "cotarius" is found in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name is also found on the Isle of Man and in County Cork, (Ireland). Here it is an anglicization of the Gaelic "Mac Oitir", Son of Oitir, a personal name from the Old Norse "Otti", fear, or dread and "herr" army. One Garrett Cotter was appointed "secretary and Marshall of the Islands of Nevis, Teago and Mountserrat" in the West Indies in 1678. Interesting namebearers include one George Sackville Cotter (1755-1831) who was educated at Westminster School and Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1779 and translated "Terence" 1826, and "Platus" 1827; Patrick Cotter (1761-1806) was a bricklayer who exhibited himself as a giant in Great Britain under the name "O'Brien" (1779-1804). His height is sometimes given as eight feet. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Cotier, which was dated 1198, in the "Sussex Pipe Rolls", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2016

Want to dig deeper into your family history? Take a look at our page on building a Family Tree. Or get scientific and enter the exciting world of Ancestral DNA!

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.
PayPal Acceptance Mark
Surname Scroll

Jeff Letson
I have been able to confirm that my family originated from Belfast area and that my name seems to be common, as in the are several Jeff Letson's in the US, and one in Australia. Cannot find further information. Thought maybe you could point out some directions, . Thanks!

Danette Monahan

I am looking for any history regarding the name Monahan. I believe it was originally Monaghan and was changed when my ancestors move to the US from Ireland.

Michalene Lannen

We are searching the the Lann*n's that lived in County Louth from around 1780 until immigration to the US in the 1840's. We have discovered nothing that gives us definitive proof of 'our family'. We know they did come from County Louth as their headstones say Louth. There mothers headstone says she was from the Parish of Proleek ~ County Armagh & that her maiden name was Maguinness [spelled many many different ways]!!!

Michelle Leo
Looking for Surname Kehoe that came from County Cork. I also have Delia Spode and Charles Spode from Donegal as well as the surname McNeely. These are all my Mothers side.

Harriet Myers
Looking for parents of Mary McIntyre. b. 1798 possibly in Tyrone County. d. 27 June, 1878 in Maghereagh, Tyrone, N. Ireland. Married Joseph Alexander b. 1785 Maghereagh, Tyrone ..d.27 May, 1866. They had 6 children. I've found the Alexanders but I cannot find anything about Mary McIntyre. Need help.

Bonnie Lawson
Looking for surname Saylor, not sure what area or what time frame

Looking for John Brett b. 1801 married Ellen/Helen Tierney b. approx 1811who left Ireland approx. 1837-39 for Canada with their son Patrick Brett. We think they may possibly be from Co Carlow.

Jon W. Branstrator
Looking for my great, great grandfather John McNair born 15 October 1800 in Antrim, Ireland; Married to Jane?, died August 1841 Allen County Indiana USA. Immigrated to London, Ontario (date?), then through Detroit, Michigan 05 June 1838 to Allen Co. Indiana. His son Neil (my great grandfather) was born 24 December 1823 in Western Canada (Ontario) and immigrated with his father to Indiana. Neil lost his first wife Eliza Jane Wardle abt.1847, and remarried 13 November 1850 to Sarah R. Pool (born in England). Neil died in Allen County Indiana 13 November 1865 from disease contracted while serving in Alexandria Virginia as a Union U.S. Civil War soldier.

Nancy McManigal
I want to know how to look up a surname. I was told that my ancestors were Viking, and had the name Monagle, at that time. They were supposed to have landed in Northeast Ireland, and we're in a tribe.

Any ideas on where it originated?