This unusual and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and belongs to that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were originally given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, and supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition. The derivation, in this instance, is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ator", Middle English "atter", venom, gall, bitterness, used to denote a resentful or particularly disagreeable person. One Edwin Atter was recorded in "Early London Personal Names", dated circa 1130. The surname is now recorded in English Church Registers under the variant spellings Ater, Ather, Hawter and Hatter, indicating that, perhaps in some instances, Atter may be an aphaeretic form of Hatter, itself an occupational name for a maker or seller of hats, deriving from the Olde English "haett", hat, with the addition of the agent suffix "-er". Henry le Hatter was noted in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire. On November 24th 1593, Alice Atter and Phillip Smith were married at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, and on December 12th 1718, the marriage of Mary Atter to Richard Hewitt took place at St. Benet Paul's Wharf, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edquinus Atre, which was dated 1111, in "Early London Personal Names", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 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.
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