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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, German

Where did the English Potter family come from? What is the English Potter family crest and coat of arms? When did the Potter family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Potter family history?

The name Potter arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is a name for a maker of clay or metal storage vessels which was in turn derived from the Latin word potus, meaning to drink.


Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Potter, Pottar, Poter and others.

First found in Hampshire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Potter research. Another 311 words(22 lines of text) covering the years 1204, 1557, 1592, 1664, 1594, 1678, 1614, 1661, 1674 and 1747 are included under the topic Early Potter History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 137 words(10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Potter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Potter family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 109 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Potter or a variant listed above:

Potter Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Henry Potter, who arrived in Virginia in 1619
  • Ann Potter, who landed in Virginia in 1624-1625
  • Vincent Potter, who settled in New England in 1635
  • William Potter and his wife Francis, who came to Boston in 1635
  • Martha Potter, aged 20, landed in Virginia in 1635

Potter Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Joseph Potter, who arrived in Virginia in 1702
  • Mary Potter, who arrived in Virginia in 1702
  • Matthew Potter, who landed in Virginia in 1711
  • Robert Potter, his wife and three children, who came to Georgia in 1733
  • Richard Potter, who landed in America in 1760-1763

Potter Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Robert Potter, aged 24, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Oliver Potter, aged 26, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Johnson Potter, who landed in New York, NY in 1812
  • Henry Potter, who arrived in New York in 1822
  • Philip Potter, who landed in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1827


  • Van Rensselaer Potter (1911-2001), American biochemist and professor of oncology
  • Nels Potter (1911-1999), American baseball player
  • William Everett Potter (1905-1988), American Governor of the Panama Canal Zone from 1956 to 1960
  • John William Potter (1918-2013), United States federal judge
  • Mrs. Lily Alexenia Potter, (née Wilson), aged 56, American First Class passenger from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 7
  • Brigadier-General Waldo Charles Potter (1885-1971), American Chairman of 2nd Section, War Department Manpower Board (1943-1945)
  • Henry Potter (1881-1995), American Olympic sliver medalist for golf at the 1904 games
  • Dennis Potter (b. 1935), English dramatist
  • Stephen Meredith Potter (1900-1969), English writer
  • Helen Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), English reclusive author and illustrator



  • Descendants of Deacon Samuel Potter (1671-1756), Connecticut Farms (now Union) N.J. by Helen Potter Alleman.
  • Descendants of Nicholas Potter of Lynn, Massachusetts by Frank Elwood Potter.

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  1. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  4. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  5. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  6. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  7. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  8. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  9. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  10. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  11. ...

The Potter Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Potter Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 18 October 2014 at 10:36.

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