This interesting name has two possible origins, the first being an occupational name for an extractor or seller of salt, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "s(e)alt" meaning "salt". The surname from this source is first recorded towards the middle of the 13th Century (see below). One Thomas le Selter appears in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, and a John Saltman is recorded in the Suffolk Pipe Rolls (1327). The second distinct possibility is that the name derives from the Middle English, Olde French "saltere, sautere", meaning a psaltery (a stringed instrument like a harp). In the Assize Court Rolls of Northumberland, William le Saltere is also called le Salterer, i.e., Psalterer. One William le Sautreour was minstrel to Lady Margaret, wife of Edward 1 (Calendar of Letter Books for the City of London, dated 1304). An interesting namebearer was one James Salter (flourished, circa 1723), a proprietor of "Don Saltero's Coffee-house", Chelsea, where he gathered a large collection of curiosities. Coats of Arms have been granted to Salter families in Devon, Cornwall, Shropshire, and to a namebearer in Essex, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1740. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Salter, which was dated 1243, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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