The surname of COURTER was an occupational name for a judge, less often used also for a servant employed at the court or residence of a lord. The name was originally derived from the Old French 'courtier'. This word came to be used of a court of law, as local justice was dispensed originally by the lord of the manor. Later he was assisted by advisors, to whom he eventually delegated responsibility entirely for most practical purposes. The surname is unlikely ever to have been acquired by a courtier in the sense of one who frequented a royal court, for those in this position were always of at least knightly class and already held distinctive surnames from their estates. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America. It was also a habitation name from places called COURTIER in Seine-et-Marne and Basses-Alpes, or COURTIE in Tarm, all of which get their names from the Latin COHORTAIRE, a derivative of court. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries.
The associated coat of arms for the name COUTURIER are recorded in Rietstaps Armorial General.
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