The surname of WATTERS was a French baptismal name 'the son of Waters', the medieval pronunciation of Walter. It was also a locational name 'dweller by the water or stream'. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. Early records of the name mention John Watter of Wales who was recorded in the year 1214 and Alice Waters of the County of Suffolk in 1327. Thomas Watter of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and Edward Watters was documented in County Lancashire in 1400. In the middle ages it was customary for a man to be named after the village where he held his land: this name identified his whole family and followed him wherever he moved. It could have been his place of birth, or the name of his land-holding. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. A later instance of the name includes Joseph Watters and Deborah Parry who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1791. Alice Watters of Scotland appears in the year 1676. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. The arms were registered at Belleville, Edinburgh in 1870.
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