This is one of the most famous of English surnames. Recorded as Carter and the much rarer Cartman and Charter, this is or rather was, an occupational surname for an early transport contractor. There are four sources for the surname, all of which have played some part in the development since the Roman times. Firstly it may derive from the Roman-Latin word "carettarius", meaning a chariot driver, a trained soldier, or a member of the elite corps that were permitted to drive chariots in the famous races, secondly the Norman French "caretier", which itself is from the Latin and survives in modern French as "Cartier", thirdly it may be from the pre 7th century Norse-Viking word "kartr", and lastly the Olde English word "craet", the latter two words both describing a two wheeled vehicle. Over the many centuries all these spellings have fused. Early examples of the surname recordings include Nicholas le Carter, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Oxfordshire for the year1273, and later from the surviving early church registers: the christening of Edmond Carter, the son of James Carter, at St. Mary Magdalene, in the city of London, on September 6th 1549. Amongst the very earliest of settlers to the new England colonies of America was Robert Carter, a passenger on the famous ship "Mayflower", that carried the Pilgrim Fathers to Virginia in 1620. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rannulf le Caretier. This was dated 1192, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Huntingdonshire, during the reign of King Richard 1st of England, known as "Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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