L A R T E R
FAMILY HISTORY INFORMATION CENTER
Variants and Corruptions
LARTER, as far as research has shown, appears to have its origin in the Ancient Germanic word LAHTRO, relating to a place where animals lay their young. As the Germanic tribes began to migrate the Old Norse branch took with them their own dialect forms of this word spelt as LAHTRE and LATTR; while the Scandinavians developed their forms as LAUCHTER and LAWCHTER. On migrating to East Anglia, England; the Anglo Saxons of the Scandinavian tribe brought with them their language which has been historically classed as Old English. Spellings in Old English often had the letter H prefixed, therefore in those days was spelt as HLEAHTOR which later, towards the Middle English period became LAUGHTER. Generally, the pronunciation of 'AUGH' in LAUGHTER had the sound of 'or' as in LAWTER and 'ar' as in LARTER; but as the UK had dozens of dialects, a whole bunch of variant spellings for this word appeared. The north of England had spellings of:-
LAATER, LAFTER, LATER, LAWTER, LAYTER, LIGHTER, LOWTER and LOUTER;
while the midlands and southern region had:-
LAITER, LAYTARE, LOITER, LIGHTER, LAUGHTER, and LAWTER.
There are other variants but there's sufficiant here to explain the point.
A number of references have been found where these old words have been used, all of which seem to apply to a quantity or specific 'odd' number of something- usually 13 or 15. The following are a few examples that have been found:-
Eggs of the same LIGHTER. (1691)
'She's laid out her LAITER. (1873)
Their hens are sitting on a good LAUCHTER of eggs. (1899)
It's her thirteenth bairn this year. I hope she's laid her LAFTER now. (No date given)
These sentences/phrases strongly suggest that the early surname LAUGHTER/LAWGHTER may have been given to a man who had thirteen children - for example:-
John who has had his LAUGHTER,
William, one of John's LAUGHTER. (William, one of John's 13 children.)
As to the spelling of LARTER, it appears to have a Norfolk and Suffolk origin. LAUGHTER appears to have been the first spelling of the surname, of which LAWTER is a variant. LAUGHTER and LAWTER was commonly used synonymously with each other within many records along side another variant - LAUTER. Somewhere along the way the variant LARTER began to emerge along side these three commonly interchangable variants of the 1500s to 1700s. On several ocassions during the 1700s these three variants LAUGHTER, LAWTER and LAUTER plus some other but less commonly used were often grouped together under a mainstream surname of LARTER, which has now become an established modern day surname world wide.
Other proposed theories on the origin of the Larter surname - Click here
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