This name is of early medieval English origin, and derives from the Middle English "co(a)te" meaning a coot, and was originally given as a nickname to a bald person. The bird was regarded as bald because of the large white patch, an extension of the bill, on its head. The expression "as bald as a cote" has become standard in English. A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, or to supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition. The surname from this source is first recorded at the beginning of the 13th Century (see below), and one William le Coot appears in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of John Coote and Agnes Grace on July 5th 1558, at South Mimms; the marriage of John Coote and Catherine Hale on February 1st 1582; and the christening of Agnes, daughter of Lewes Coote, on February 25th 1598, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was Edmund Coote, who flourished around the year 1597 when he published "The English Schoolmaster", a method of learning English, which went through fifty editions before 1704. In the modern idiom the name has a number of spelling variations, these include: Coot, Coote, Cootes and Coots. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald Cote, which was dated 1201, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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