This interesting and unusual surname is of French origin and is a metonymic occupational name for a plasterer, referring to the substance, consisting of lime, sand and water, that was used to make joints between stones in building, and coat stone walls. The derivation is from the Old French 'mortier', the Anglo French 'morter'. However, Chaucer also mentions 'morter' in a different context, for example 'For, by this morter which that I see brenne, Knowe I ful wel that day is not far henne', in which he refers to a type of nightlight, and it is possible that some names stem from this source. Among the recordings in London is the marriage of Thomas Morter and Joane Wilson on February 16th 1645 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Marye Mortyer, which was dated January 22nd 1609, London, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603-1625. 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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