This rare and intriguing name is of early medieval English origin, and is an occupational surname for a pewterer, someone who made drinking vessels, plates, and other articles from pewter (an alloy of tin and lead). The name derives from the Middle English "peutrer", adopted from the Old French "peautrier", an agent derivative of "peau(l)tre", pewter. The Pewterers and the Founders marched together in the York Mystery Plays procession. The surname from this source has taken an extraordinary variety of forms; these range from Pewterer, Peutherer (also found in Scotland), and Pewter to Powter and Pouter. The feminine form of the name, Pewtress, has become Poutress, Poytress, Poythres and Poytheras. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and gradually became hereditary, and names that in the Middle Ages differentiated between the sexes were generally used for both by the early 16th Century; other examples of this include Baker/Baxter and Porter/Portress. Among the recordings of the name in Church Registers are those of the marriage of Jane Poythress and Thomas Rolfe in London, in 1615, and the marriage of Charles Poytress and Sarah Clarke at Tirley in Gloucestershire, on February 9th 1807. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lambert le Peutrer, which was dated 1311, in "A Catalogue of Ancient Deeds", Middlesex, during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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