Recorded in a number of spellings including Dottrell and Dotterill, this ancient surname is medieval and English in origin. It derives from the pre 7th century word "doten" and the later Middle English "dottrell" meaning the plover bird., or at least a species of it, and the surname was probably given to a breeder or hunter of such birds. According to an early author it was said that "idem quid dotarde" implying that the plover was so stupid that anybody could catch it! Whether this is true or not we are unable to say, only that in our limited experience that all birds raised for hunting or shooting seem to lack any serious preservation instincts. What is certain is that this is one of the earliest of all surnames, predating the normal examples by as much as two hundred years or more. Early examples include Roger Doterel in the 1211 register of the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk and Ralph Dotrell, in the 1301 Subsidy Rolls of the county of Yorkshire. The first known recording of the surname anywhere in the world is believed to be that of William Doterel, in the 1182 volume of the register of the abbey of Bury St Edemunds, Suffolk. This was during the reign of King Henry 11 of England, known as "The church builder", 1154 - 1189.
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