This interesting surname is job descriptive, and almost certainly of Olde English pre 10th century origins, although not apparently recorded (see below) until the 12th century. The term "fitter" clearly did not mean the same in medieval times as it does today, not the least because the fairly primitive existence did not require the same skills as was the later norm in the Industrial Revolution from 1740 onwards. The eminent Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley described a fitter as a form of carpenter, one who had a specific responsibility for assembling wood sections, but it seems more likely that the term "to fit" described a more basic function of loading ships with their cargo, rather than an engineering practice. The surname is found in most regions of England, although more so at points with facilities for shipping, again a pointer to a land based nautical application. The Coat of Arms of Fitter again suggests a nautical meaning, the blazon being a black field charged with two silver swans with gold beaks, between gold flaunches. Examples of the early recordings include Hugh le Fittere in the Close Rolls of Gloucester for the year 1231 in the reign of Henry 111, whilst later in London in 1548 Helen Fytter is recorded as "buried at St Michaels Church, Cornhill." Other examples include William Fitter of Hanbury christened on August 5th 1581, and Mary Fitter, who married Thomas Smart at Alvechurch, Worcestershire, on October 5th 1680. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Le Fittere, which was dated 1195, in the Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire, 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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