Recorded as Salt, Salter, Sulter, Saltman and Salterman, this is an English surname of two possible origins. The first is occupational and describes an extractor or seller of salt, the derivation being from the Olde English pre 7th century world "sealt" meaning salt. The surname from this source is first recorded towards the middle of the 13th century (see below), and Thomas le Selter appears in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296, whilst John Saltman is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Suffolk in 1327. The second distinct possibility is that the name derives from the pre 7th century Olde French words "saltere or sautere", meaning a psalter. This was a stringed instrument like a harp, which was very popular in the medieval period. In the Assize Court rolls of Northumberland, we have the recording of a musician called William le Salterer, meaning one who played the psalter, whilst another recording is that of William le Sautreour. He was minstrel to Queen Margaret, the wife of King Edward 1st (1272 - 1307) in the Calendar of Letter Books for the City of London, dated 1304. An interesting namebearer was one James Salter who flourished around the year 1723. He was a proprietor of "Don Saltero's Coffee-house", Chelsea, where he gathered a large collection of curiosities. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Salter. This was dated 1243, in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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