This interesting and unusual surname is of Norman origin, and is an occupational name for "one who counts, reckons", that is, an accountant or treasurer. The derivation is from the Anglo-French "countour", a development of the Old French "conteor", "one who counts". Originally, the treasurer was a person entrusted with the receipt, care, and disbursement of the revenues of a king, noble, or other dignitary of a state, city or church; consequently, the office was held in high regard. Job-descriptive surnames formerly denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The surname first appears on record in the mid 13th Century (see below). Further early examples from the Assize Court Rolls of Staffordshire include: John le Cuntur, (1289), with the forms "le Cunter" and "le Counter" appearing in 1301. On July 2nd 1685, John Counter and Ruth Bernard were married at St. Mary's, Marylebone Road, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the Counter family is a barry of six red and gold, with fifteen roundles counterchanged, three, two, three, two, three and two. The roundle represents the Byzantium coin. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Matthew Cunter, which was dated 1250, in the "Book of Fees" for Hampshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216-1272. 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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