This unusual and interesting name is of Old French origin, and was introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is a metonymic occupational name for someone who made and/or sold buttons, derived from the Old French word "bo(u)ton", button or Butten, in Middle English (1200 - 1500) "boton". Another surname formed from the same source is Butner, from the Old French "botonier", meaning "a maker of buttons". Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The surname was first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Ambrose Button, from Wiltshire, listed in the Register of the University of Oxford for the year 1568, and in 1589, the same Register lists Richard Button, from Staffordshire. One Thomas Button was an early namebearer to settle in the New World Colonies; he appears on a list of those living in Virginia in February 1623, as a resident of "the plantation over against James City". Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriage of Robert Smyth and Ann Button in 1638. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Boton, which was dated 1296, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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