Recorded as Flatt, Flatter, Flather and Flatters, this is usually an English surname, but one ultimately of pre 7th century Old Scandinavian origins. It is topographical for someone who lived on a flat, meaning a patch of level or low-lying ground. The derivation is from the Old Norse word "flat or flot", and when with the genitive suffix "-er", means "dweller at the flat". Topographical names were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages.However, in some instances the name may be of Old Germanic origin, as an occupational name for a chef, baker or someone who worked in the kitchen. From this source one Otto Flader appears in 1343, in medieval German records. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers include: Thomas del Flat of Yorkshire, in the Friary Rolls of 1349, Richard Flayther, who was christened at Dewsbury, Yorkshire, on January 6th 1544, while Thomas Flather married Alice Tomson, also at Dewsbury, on December 9th 1550. Johann, son of Siegmund Flather, was born in August 1781, at Cainsdorf, Zwickau, Sachsen, Germany. The first recorded spelling of the family name is possibly that of John Flate of Derbyshire, England, in the the Subsidy Tax Rolls of 1327. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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