This interesting surname is of Old French origin, and has two possible sources; firstly, it may be an occupational name for the gatekeeper of a town, or a doorkeeper of a large house, deriving from the Middle English "porter", a development of the Old French "portier". Secondly, it may be an occupational name for a man who carried loads for a living, especially one who used his own muscle power rather than a beast of burden or a wheeled vehicle, from the Old French "porteo(u)r" to carry, convey. The surname is distinguished by being first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 (see below), and early recordings include William le Portier (1190), in the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire, and Nicholas le Portur (1263), in "Middle English Occupational Terms" of Surrey. London Church Records list the christening of Edward, son of Thomas Porter, on September 14th 1546, at St. Matthew's, Friday Street, and the christening of John, son of Edward Porter, on June 24th 1599, at St. Stephen's, Coleman Street. A Coat of Arms granted to a Porter family in Allerby, Cumberland, is a red shield, on a gold fess, three blue church bells, a silver border engrailed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Milo Portarius, porter at Winchester Castle, which was dated 1086, in the "Domesday Book of Hampshire" , during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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