This very unusual English surname has at least three possible origins. The first is locational and describes one who lived in or by a 'pott'. This was the Olde English word for a depression in the ground, and is still found as 'pothole'. The second is Greek via the 12th century Crusaders, being a shortened form of the medieval given name Philpott, itself a diminutive of Phillip, meaning 'lover of horses'. A third option is that it can be a nickname from the medieval English 'pode', meaning a toad! As the toad was an early heraldic symbol, clearly it was not derogatory. As many as half the original surnames originated from nicknames, some extremely vulgar, although many are now extinct. The modern forms of the surname include Poad, Poat(e), Podd, Pods, Pott, Potte, Potts, and Pot, whilst early examples of the name recordings include Richard Pode in the pipe rolls of Devonshire for the year 1230, whilst Petronilla Potes is found in the court rolls of Colchester, Essex for 1311, and Roger Potte, also of Colchester in 1352 a.d. Later church recordings include examples such as Thomas Poud, a witness at Roxwell, Essex, on April 2nd 1560, William Podd, who married Rachel Hibbes at St James Church, Dukes Place, London, on December 31st 1682, and Joseph Poet, a witness at Putney on October 20th 1730. Other examples are those of Matthew Poate christened on April 28th 1780 at St. Saviour, Southwark, London, and Victor Edward Verdun Poat, christened at West Norwood, London on July 19th 1916. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godwin Pot, which was dated 1115 a.d, in the Pipe Rolls of Hampshire, during the reign of King Henry 1, known as 'The administrator', 1100 - 1130 a.d. 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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