This interesting surname of English origin with variant spellings But, Butt, Butte, Bute, etc., is derived from the middle English personal name But(t) of unknown origin, perhaps originally a nickname meaning "short and stocky" and akin to the late middle English "butt" meaning "thick end" or "stump". The middle English But(te) was also a vocabulary word denoting various types of salt fish, the surname may have been acquired by a seller of salt fish. Finally, it may be a topographical name for someone who lived near a place used for archery practice from the middle English "but" meaning "mark for archery" i.e., a target or goal (from the old French "but" meaning "aim", "target"). The surname dates back to the early 12th Century, (see below). Further recordings include one Robert le But (1198) "The Pipe Rolls of Sussex", and William le But (1214), "Early London Personal Names". Church recordings include one Elizabeth Butt who was christened on October 7th 1582 at St. Gabriel, Fenchurch, London. Anne, daughter of George and Ann Bute, was christened at St. George in the East, Stepney on July 16th 1780. One Rose Bute aged 23 yrs., a famine emigrant sailed from Liverpool aboard the Fidelia bound for New York on October 5th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter But, which was dated 1114 - 1130, in the "Cartularium Monasterii de Rameseia, Norfolk", 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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