This interesting name has two possible origins, the most likely being of locational nature, and deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century 'polt' meaning one who dwelt in a hollow or by a pit. The second although less likely possibility, is as a shortened form of Philpott, itself a derivative of Philip, the ancient Greek meaning 'the horse lover'. The name development has included Roger Potte, (1311, Colchester) William Pottes (1540, Whitby) and Joseph Poate, of Astan Flamville, Leicester, who married Anne Usher in 1748. In the modern idiom the surname has several spelling variants including Poate, Pote, Potte and Potts, Pottes, and Potes. The plural, as it occurs, probably implying 'son of Pot'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Pot, which was dated 1115, in the Pipe Rolls of Winton in Hampshire, during the reign of King Henry 1, known as the Adminstrater, 1100 - 1135. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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