This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is locational from either of two places, one being Potton in Bedfordshire, which derives from the Old English pre 7th Century 'pott', a pot, and 'tun', an enclosure or settlement. It may be that this was a place where pots were made, on a large scale, or even that the first element 'pott', was used in the topographical sense of a hollow depression in the landscape. Potterne in Wiltshire is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Poterne', and subsequently in the Pipe Rolls of 1165 and the Feet of Fines of 1195 as 'Poterna'. The derivation of the first element is identical to Potton, with the second element 'aern', a house, thus a potters house. An early recording in Bedfordshire is the christening of James Potten on June 2nd 1745 at Studham. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Pooten (marriage to Ellen Hill), which was dated February 26th 1564, Knighton-upon-Teme, Worcestershire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, '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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