This French surname of COTTEY was a metonymic occupational name for a maker of chain mail. The name was originally derived from the Old French word COTTE (coat of mail), and was of Germanic origin. It is unlikely to have been a nickname for a wearer of a coat of mail, since only the richest classes, who already had distinguished family names of their own, could afford to be so well protected in a garment with required many hours of skilled labour to construct. It may perhaps have been used as a nickname for a hard and unfeeling person. The name is also spelt COTTEZ, LACOTTTE, COTTE, COTTU, COTTET and COTTINEAU, to name but a few. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. This is the family name of a publishing house established in Tubingen in 1640. The family came originally from Italy. Its most prominent members have been Johann Friedrich (1701-79), theological professor at Tubingen, Gottingen and Jena; and his grandson Johann Freidrick Freiherr COTTA von COTTENDORF (1764-1832). Educated at Tubingen, and for some time an advocate, in 1787 he undertook the family business. In 1795 he established the famous 'Horen' a literary journal. In 1810 he moved to Stuttgart, and in 1824 introduced the first steam printing press into Bavaria. In the diet of Wurttemberg, and as president of the Second Chamber, he was always the fearless defender of constitutional rights. He was the first Wuttemberg proprietor to abolish serfdom on his estates. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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