This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool-trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The original place is believed to have been situated in Devonshire, because of the large number of early recordings in that region, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "pott", pot, very likely used in a transferred sense, such as hole, pit, hollow, and "burg", a fortified place, fort; hence, "hollow by the fortified place". In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Pothbury, Pottberry, Potebury, Potberry and Potbury. Recordings of the surname from Devonshire Church Registers include: the christening of Tomazi, daughter of Johis Potbury, on April 28th 1577, at Otterton; the marriage of Margarey Potbery and Rafe Wall at the same place, on October 12th 1577; and the marriage of John Potbury and Thomazine Woode on February 25th 1600, at Woodbury. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rici Potbury, which was dated March 29th 1566, witness at the christening of his son, Thomas, at Otterton, Devonshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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