This interesting and long-established surname has three distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, Luter may be of early medieval English origin, and an occupational name for a player on the lute, deriving from the Middle English and Old French "luthier, leuteour", a lute-player. Early examples of the surname from this source include: Alvredus le Lutur (Kent, 1221), and John le Leuter, le Leutour, and uter, recorded respectively in the Calendar of Letter Books for the City of London, dated 1304 to 1310. The second possibility is that the surname is of Old French origin, and a metonymic form of the occupational name "Lutterer", a hunter of others (for their pelts), from the Old French "loutre", otter, with the agent suffix "-(i)er"; in its original sense "a man who has to do with", the "-er" designates persons according to their profession or occupation. One Geoffrey Lutre and a Ralph le Lutre were noted in Early Charters of London and Sussex in 1204 and 1207 respectively. Finally, Luter may be a variant of the German surname "Leuther", itself deriving from the Old German personal name "Liut-her", composed of the elements "liut", people, tribe, and "heri", army. On June 15th 1551, John, son of Christopher Luter, was christened at St. Nicholas Acons, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Lelutre, which was dated 1130, in the "Pipe Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 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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