Otter History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Otter came to England with the ancestors of the Otter family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. It comes from the Scandinavian given name Ottur. When used as a surname Otter indicates that the father of the original bearer was named Ottur.

Early Origins of the Otter family

The surname Otter was first found in Huntingdon where they held a family seat from very ancient times, and are believed to be descended from the celebrated Castellan of Windsor, William FitzOther, son of Otherus, the Duke of Lombardy, the great Norman land owner at the time of the Conquest, who was also scion of the Fitzgeralds, the Gerards and the Windsors. The Clan proliferated in east Yorkshire, Nottingham, Lincoln and Derby.

Early History of the Otter family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Otter research. Another 141 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1140, 1250, 1264, 1291, 1296, 1548, and 1837 are included under the topic Early Otter History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Otter Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Other, Others, Otter, Otters, Ottyr, Otre, Otir, Oter, Oder, Othyr, FitzOther and many more.

Early Notables of the Otter family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Otter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Otter migration to the United States +

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Otter name or one of its variants:

Otter Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Otter, who settled in Virginia in 1638
  • Thomasin Otter, who arrived in Maryland in 1668 [1]
  • John Otter, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682 [1]
  • John Otter and his wife settled in Delaware in 1682
Otter Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Johan Henrich Otter, who settled in Philadelphia in 1734
  • Joh Henrich Otter, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1734 [1]
  • Francis Otter, who landed in America in 1748
Otter Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Otter, who landed in Maryland in 1828 [1]
  • Lena Den Otter, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1847 [1]
  • Aart Den Otter, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1847 [1]
  • Dirk Den Otter, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1847 [1]
  • Stephan Otter, who settled in New York State in 1882

New Zealand Otter migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Otter Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Robert Otter, British settler travelling from London with 2 others names not listed aboard the ship "Matoaka" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th September 1859 [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Otter (post 1700) +

  • Francis Otter (1831-1895), English politician, Member of Parliament for Louth (1885-1886)
  • William Bruère Otter (1805-1876), Anglican cleric, Archdeacon of Lewes from 1855 until his death in 1876
  • William Otter (1768-1840), first Principal of King's College, London
  • General Sir William Dillon Otter KCB, CVO, VD (1843-1929), Canadian soldier who was the first Canadian-born Chief of the General Staff
  • Clement Leroy "Butch" Otter (b. 1942), American politician, 32nd Governor of Idaho since January 2007, Lieutenant Governor of Idaho from 1987 to 2001
  • Rt. Rev. Anthony Otter (1896-1986), Assistant Bishop Diocese of Lincoln, and author of "Beginning with Atoms"
  • Bethel V Otter (1914-1942), eponym of the USS Otter (DE-210)

RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Richard Otter (d. 1912), aged 39, American Second Class passenger from Middleburg Heights, Ohio who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [3]


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  3. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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