This long-established surname is of medieval English origin, and is a patronymic of the male given name Water or Walter. This name was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, in the form "Walt(i)er" and "Waut(i)er", and is composed of the Germanic elements "wald", rule, and "heri, hari", army. The normal vernacular pronunciation of the Middle Ages, "water", reflected the latter of these forms. One Waterus de Cantelupo was noted in Documents relating to the Danelaw, Lincolnshire, dated circa 1135, and a Walterus or Waterus filius (son of) Herberti was entered in the same rolls in 1154. Early examples of the surname include: John Walter (Warwickshire, 1214), and Richard Wauter (Worcestershire, 1275). The patronymic form of the name first appears on record in the latter part of the 14th Century (see below). In 1495, one William Watterson was noted in the "Register of the Guild of the Corpus Christi in the City of York", and in 1588, Margaret Watterson, of Cartmell, was entered in the Lancashire Wills Records at Richmond. The surname is widely recorded in Yorkshire Church Registers from the late 16th Century, and entries include, the christening of Dorothy, daughter of John Waterson, at Whixley, on March 17th 1574, and the marriage of Jane Waterson to William Nelson at Monk Frystone, on September 10th 1594. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Wauterson, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Returns Records of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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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