This interesting name is a diminutive of "Cotter", a medieval status surname introduced by the Normans. It derives from the Middle English "cotter" which was a technical term of status in the feudal system for a serf or bond tenant who held his cottage by labour service rather than by paying rent. In the Domesday Book of 1086, the term is used (to denote status) as "coterellus" the Old French being "coterel", a diminutive of "cotier", cottages. In the modern idiom the name is spelt Cotterell, Cotrell, Cotterill, Cottrill and Cotherill.Recordings from London church registers include the marriage of Edward Cotterell to Em Hastings in Twickenham on December 4th 1552; The marriage of Dorothy Cottrell to Thomas Coman in St. Gregory's on February 2nd 1566; The christening of Anne Cottrill in Wadsworth, (April 22nd 1604), and the christening of Alice Cotterill in St. Andrew's, Holborn, on June 28th 1618. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Coterel, which was dated 1130, in the "London Pipe Rolls", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "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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