This medieval surname is of either French or German origins. It is generally regarded as a nickname, whatever its derivation. In the French it derives from "cot(t)e", and as such as a metonymic either for a maker of chain-mail armour coats or the wearer of such expensive protection. The latter is quite probable as there are at least six specific recordings of heraldic Coats of Arms being granted and these were unlikely to be granted to humble makers of equipment, however expensive. The German origin is a derivation from the pre 10th Century "Gotte", meaning "God", and as such is a nickname for an actor who played the part of "God" in the travelling theatres of the period. There is also a possible secondary meaning in that the name could also be a descriptive nickname for one who had god-like qualities or was sarcastic for one who behaved like God! The early recordings include: Elizabeth Cotta, who married Ludwig Schlermacher at Rohrda, Hessen-Nassau, on May 2nd 1698, and Johannes Cotta, a witness at St. Martinus Church, Southeim, Wuertt, on December 10th 1709. In France, Bertomairon Cotta was recorded at Nice, on March 1st 1606, and Gircomo Cotta, at the same city, on February 20th 1617. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Andres Cotta, which was dated January 14th 1605, married at Stadtkirche, Colditz, Province of Sachsen, Germany, during the reign of Rudolf 11 of Habsburg, "Holy Roman Emperor", 1576 - 1612. 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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