Recorded in several spellings as shown below, this is an English medieval surname. It has two possible origins. Firstly it may have been a nickname given with reference to personal characteristics. In this instance, it is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "ator", meaning venom, and used to denote a resentful or particularly disagreeable person, or given thew robust humour of the Chaucerian times, the comple reverse!. The spellings of the name include such forms as Ater, Atter, Ather, Hatter and Hawter, from which it is possible to conclude that they may be aphetic forms of the surname Hatter. This was an occupational name for a maker or seller of hats, with as an example Henry le Hatter appearing in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire in 1275. Other examples of recordings include that on November 24th 1593, of Alice Atter and Phillip Smith who were married at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, whilst on December 12th 1718, the marriage of Mary Ather to Richard Hewitt took place at St. Benet's church, Paul's Wharf, also city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edquinus Atre. This was dated 1111, in the register known as the Early London Personal Names listing, during the reign of King Henry 1st, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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