This is a very old English surname. It is occupational and derives from the pre 7th century word "laett" and describes a lath maker, a very important skill at a time when almost all internal building work was based around the use of lath and plaster. In fact it has been estimated that a small cottage of four rooms could contain two miles of lath, whilst an early manor house might require over fifty miles! As the majority of medieval houses built without any form of foundation or rot preservation, only had a life of thirty to forty years, it can be seen that the occupation of "latter" was that of a major industry. This remained so even into the 20th century, until superceded mainly by plasterboard, in the period between the World Wars. Occupational surnames only became hereditary when a son or perhaps a grandson followed the father into the same job. If however a son took up another skill, then he could be called by both that skill and his fathers occupation! Not surprisingly this surname is one of the first occupational surnames ever recorded with Thomas le Latier appearing in the rolls of the county of Dorset in the year 1199. This was probably not a hereditary recording, but that of Robert Latter, who appears in the manorial registers of the city of Wakefield in the year 1327, almost certainly was.
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