This is an interesting example of an Old English status name, here from the Middle English word "cotter", a technical term of the feudal system for a serf or bond tenant, a villein who hold a cottage by labour-service rather than by paying rent. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century word "cot", meaning cottage or hut and the term "cotarius" is found in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name is also found on the Isle of Man and in County Cork, (Ireland). Here it is an anglicization of the Gaelic "Mac Oitir", Son of Oitir, a personal name from the Old Norse "Otti", fear, or dread and "herr" army.One Garrett Cotter was appointed "secretary and Marshall of the Islands of Nevis, Teago and Mountserrat" in the West Indies in 1678. Interesting namebearers include one George Sackville Cotter (1755-1831) who was educated at Westminster School and Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1779 and translated "Terence" 1826, and "Platus" 1827; Patrick Cotter (1761-1806) was a bricklayer who exhibited himself as a giant in Great Britain under the name "O'Brien" (1779-1804). His height is sometimes given as eight feet. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Cotier, which was dated 1198, in the "Sussex Pipe Rolls", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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