Sorter History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Sorter finds its origins with the ancient Anglo-Saxons of England. It was given to one who worked as a manufacturer or dealer in salt, 'the Salter.' "The Salters' Company was early among the London Guilds." [1] [2] [3] [4]

"A maker of salt [was] a business of great importance in the middle ages, when the produce of the land was almost entirely consumed on the spot, and immense quantities of victuals of all kinds had to he salted, in order that they might be kept the whole year round." [5]

Alternatively the name could have originated with " 'the sautreour,' a player on the psaltery, or 'gay sawtrye,' as Chaucer styles it. A stringed instrument of the harp class." [1]

While the first entry is the prevailing understanding of the etomology of the name, one source claims the name was Norman/French as the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae lists William Salatre in Normandy in 1198. [6]

Early Origins of the Sorter family

The surname Sorter was first found in various shires throughout ancient Britain. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed John le Saltere, Cambridgeshire; and Nygel le Salter, Wiltshire. [1] In Somerset, Thomas le Saltar was listed there 1 Edward III (during the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [7]

Later in Yorkshire, Willelmus Salter; and Thomas de Wollay, Salter were both listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. Janetto la Sautreour was a minstrel of Queen Isabelle, according to the Close Rolls, 2 Edward III. "This would easily get corrupted to Salter, as the form psalterie was in use in the 12th century" [1] "William le Sautreour, [was] minstrel to the Lady Margaret, Queen of England 1304." [8]

Back in Somerset, another source notes that Robert and Philip le Salter was listed in the Assize Rolls of 1243 and later in Essex in 1262. Thomas le Selter was found in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1296 and William le Saltere was recorded in the Assize Rolls for Northumberland in 1279. [8]

Early History of the Sorter family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sorter research. Another 88 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1404, 1383, 1386, 1388, 1397, 1399, 1580, 1650, 1718, 1723 and 1673 are included under the topic Early Sorter History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sorter Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore, spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Sorter has been recorded under many different variations, including Salter, Sallter, Saltier, Saltire and others.

Early Notables of the Sorter family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include William Salter (died 1404), English politician, a weaver, one of the wealthiest men in his area, Member of Parliament for Devizes 1383, 1386, 1388, 1397, and 1399. Thomas Salter (fl. 1580) was an English author, is said by Ritson to have been a schoolmaster. If so, he...
Another 52 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sorter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Sorter migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Sorter or a variant listed above:

Sorter Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Aubery Sorter, aged 21, who arrived in New York, New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Kiowa" from Guantanamo [9]
  • Ernest Sorter, aged 29, who arrived in New York, New York in 1920 aboard the ship "Philadelphia" from Southampton, England [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Sorter (post 1700) +

  • Tammy Sorter, American sound engineer, known for History's Mysteries, and Modern Marvels
  • Elizabeth Sorter, American costumer, known for Blown Away (1994), and For the Boys (1991)


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  4. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  5. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  6. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  7. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  8. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  9. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6QR-V3T : 6 December 2014), Aubery Sorter, 15 Mar 1919; citing departure port Guantanamo, arrival port New York, New York, ship name Kiowa, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  10. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6FZ-SM6 : 6 December 2014), Ernest Sorter, 30 Aug 1920; citing departure port Southampton, arrival port New York, New York, ship name Philadelphia, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).


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