Recorded as Saltern and Salterne, this is a medieval English surname. It may be locational from Saltren's Cottages, a hamlet near the village of Monkleigh in the county of Devon, but more probably for most name holders was occupational for a man who worked at a "sealt ern". This was a place where salt was collected and purified. Collecting salt was one of the most important of all jobs in ancient times, as other than at the most important ports, spices generally were hard to obtain. The surname does seem to be most associated with counties bordering the sea, and the earliest examples of recordings are from such places. These include Henry de Salterne of Devonshire in the Subsidy Tax rolls of that county in 1333, whilst both John and Stevyn Saltern, who may well have been brothers, appear in the similar Subsidy Rolls, but of Suffolk, and nearly two centuries later, in the year 1524. Occupational surnames were amongst the first to be created, but they did not usually become hereditary unless or until a son followed his father into the same line of business. Surprisingly perhaps, many did not, and the name died out.
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