Recorded as Kohter and Kohtler, this is a German surname. It is of pre medieval origins and derives from the word 'kohl' which may be job descriptive for a collier or supplier of coal, or may have been a nickname for a person with black hair or a dark appearance. An alternative suggestion is that it derives from the pre 7th century world 'culter' and as such describes either a maker of ploughshares or possibly a ploughman. Job descriptive surnames form a very large segment of European surnames, but they are also an area which is particularly prone to spelling 'errors'. This was compounded in Germany by the fact that there were at least eleven forms of the language in medieval times, and the same word spelling could have many different meanings and connotations across the country. In addition occupational surnames did not become hereditary until a son of grandson followed the father into the same line of business. Spelling being at best erratic and local accents very thick, also gave rise to alternative spellings. In this case examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving registers include Jorgen Kohter at Anrath Catholic church, Rheinland, on November 4th 1705, and that of Freidrich Kohtler at Petzig in Brandenburg, on September 13th 1812.
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