This surname was a locational name 'of Catterall', a township between Preston and Garstang in County Lancashire. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066, and was originally derived from the Old Norman word KITTR HALI, literally meaning the dweller on the long thin piece of land. The name is common in Lancashire, and almost unknown elsewhere. Richard de Caterhale, held among other places, Gosenhar and Katerale, during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272). 'Gilbert de la Legh and the heir of John de Caterale, holds in demesne and service, the vill of Hapton' was recorded in a document during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Robert de Caterall of the County of Hampshire was documented in the year 1222 and Lora de Caterhale of the County of Lancashire appears in 1332. Richard Caterall of the County of Yorkshire was mentioned in the year 1462. Later instances of the name include a certain Thomas Catterall who was recorded in the Preston Guild Rolls in 1562, and Ellen Catterall of Croston, County Lancashire was listed in the Wills at Chester, 1545-1620.
Local names find their origins in the villages, towns and areas where people were born, or from the land they owned. In the Middle Ages, a man was identified by his place of birth and almost every city, town and village existing in medieval times has originated one or more family names. Anyone leaving his birthplace would be known to new friends and neighbours by the name of his former residence, his birthplace, or the land he owned.
In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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