This interesting and unusual name has two quite separate origins, which can be shown by the recordings of the surname and its subsequent development. The first of these is an English nickname for someone with some vocal characteristic similar to the bitterns booming call, from the Middle English 'botor' and Old French 'butor' meaning bittern. One 'Hennry Butor' appears in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire in 1169. The other and more generally applicable origin is from the Old English pre 7th century 'butere' meaning butter and is a metonymic occupational name for a dairyman or seller of butter or keeper of the buttery. William le Buter appears in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in 1243 and Geoffrey Butter in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1327. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Butere, which was dated 1130 The Pipe Rolls of Dorsetshire, during the reign of King Henry 1, 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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