This uncommon and interesting name, found chiefly in Devonshire, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from any one of the places in that county called Ottery. These places are named from their situation on or near the River Otter, which rises in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset and flows south-west through Honiton and Ottery St. Mary in Devonshire. The river is recorded in the Saxon Chartulary of 1104 as "Othery", and as "Oteri" in the 1238 Devonshire Assize Rolls, and is so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "oter", otter, with "ea", river. Most of the settlements taking their name from the river are recorded in the Domesday book of 1086 as "Otri, Otrei". There is also a place called Ottery near Tavistock, which has a different derivation; it is recorded in Domesday as "Odetrev" (v for u), from the Olde English personal name "Odda", and "treo(w)", tree. The surname forms from the placename, Ottery, range from Ott(e)ry and Utt(e)rey, to Vitt(e)ry, Vit(t)rey and Vet(t)ery, the forms with "v" being the result of the accepted double function of the letters "u" and "v" until the 17th Century. The development of the name includes these examples: Vottary (1569)' Owtery (1572); Vittry (1578); and Vitterie (1594). In London, the marriage of Thomas Vittery and Cicelly Burbage was recorded on January 5th 1563, at St. Margaret's, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jane Uttrey, which was dated February 11th 1548, marriage to John Shepherd, in Parkham, Devonshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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