Recorded in various spellings including Podder, Potter, Powter, Powder (English) Potier, Pottier (France) and others, this is an occupational or perhaps residential surname. It probably describes a maker of drinking and storage vessels, from the Roman (Latin) word "pottus," meaning drink or draught. Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and became hereditary when a son followed a father into the same business or profession. In the Middle Ages the term "potter" covered workers in metal as well as earthenware and clay; the potter was sometimes a bell-founder. As as residential surname it is from such places as Potters Bar in Middlesex or in France, Potier, a place in Normandy. The surname is one of the earliest ever recorded and examples include Geoffrey Poter in the Curia Regis rolls of Leicestershire in 1196; John le Potier in the Pipe Rolls of Essex for 1197; and Lambert le Pottur in the Curia Regis rolls of Essex in 1214. Other later recordings showing the surname development and taken from the surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London are those of John Powter at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on February 14th 1717, and George Powder and his wife Caroline, who were witnesses at the christening of their son Godfrey at St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, on November 18th 1759. The most famous namebearer is probably Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943), the English author and illustrator. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Seuard le Potter. This was dated 1172, in the transcripts of charters relating to the Gilbertine Houses, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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