Monday, April 4, 2011

Origin of the Potter surname

Booklet #1 of Potter Profiles was published in the Fall of 1984. One of the first articles in that first booklet was a quote from J.R. Dolan's book, English Ancestral Names, the Evolution of Surnames from Medieval Occupations, 1972.  "The shop of the potter was usually a little one-room affair with a lean-to in the rear where he lived." The article went on to explain the manufacturing process and how the names originated:  Clayman/Claybook/Claypool from the supplier of the clay to the potter;  Thrower/Trower for the shaping of the clay on the wheel; "most of the 20 names beginning with pot are the result of scribal variations; that is, spelling errors either by careless tax men or by individuals through the centuries." These variations could have been:  Pottman, Pottmaker, Pott, Potee, Potterton, Potterridge, Pottharst, Pottinger, Potton, Pottruff, Potts, Potkin, Pottle, Pottinger, Potier, etc. This applied to the 20 Bowl names as well and 6 Crock names. Also Cupp, Steyn, Beaker, Mugg, Pitcher, and of course Chambers (the one who made chamber pots). "The earliest potter recorded in America is Philip Drinker; his kiln was turning out crockery in Massachsuetts as early as 1635."  The article concluded with a list of 111 surnames that evolved from the pottery-making industry. Interesting, no?

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