Recorded in a number of spellings which seem to include Vaut, Vauter, Vautier, Vautiez, Votier, Vautre and Vautrey, this is a surname of French or possibly German-French origins. There appear to be two possible sources. The first according to the 'Dictionnaire Etymologique de France' is as a dialectal Normandy version of the personal name 'Gautier', itself a development of the pre 7th century German 'Walter'. Certainly 'Walter' is known to be recorded in over three hundred forms ranging from Walther to Gautreau, so there seems no reason why this name should not be a variant of a variant. The second possibility is as a nickname from the Middle French 'vautor' meaning a bird of prey! As many as a quarter of all surnames may have originally derived from medieval nicknames. Many of these names were theatrical and given to people who, for example, played the part of kings or bishops. Other nicknames were personal and purported to describe the characteristics of the name bearer. The more 'robust' nicknames have largely disappeared or changed meaning over the centuries. Examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving post medieval rolls and registers in both England and France, where surviving registers are later than England, include Agnes Votier, the daughter of Robert Votier, christened at the church of St Lawrence Jewry, city of London, on February 27th 1543, Antoine Vautre, born at Parey St Cesaire, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, on October 4th 1615, and Samuel Vautier, a Huguenot refugee and witness at the French Church, Threadneedle Street, London, on September 1st 1706.
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