This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from an occupational name for a maker of drinking and storage vessels, from an agent derivative of the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "pot", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "pott", itself derived from the Late Latin "pottus" (perhaps an altered form of "potus", meaning drink or draught), reinforced by the Old French "pot", from the same source. Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. In the Middle Ages the term "potter" covered workers in metal as well as earthenware and clay; the potter was sometimes also a bell-founder. The surname has been variously recorded in England: Geoffrey Poter was recorded in the 1196 Curia Regis Rolls of Leicestershire; John le Potier was recorded in the 1197 Pipe Rolls of Essex; and Lambert le Pottur was recorded in the 1214 Curia Regis Rolls of Essex. The most famous namebearer is probably Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943), the English author and illustrator, well known and loved for her children's animal stories, such as "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" (1902). A Coat of Arms granted to the family is black a fess ermine between three cinquefoils silver, the Crest being a seahorse gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Seuard le Potter, which was dated 1172, in the "Transcripts of Charters relating to the Gilbertine Houses", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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