Watters History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Watters is one of the names carried to England in the great wave of migration from Normandy following the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is based on the Germanic personal name Walter. The name is composed of the elements wald, meaning rule and heri, meaning army. [1] [2]

As far as the Watters variant is concerned, "upon the adoption of surnames by the common people, a person who resided near such a place would be called William or John Atte-Water, still retained in Attwater; but on the omission of the preposition in the XV. century, the name was pluralized to Waters. " [3]

"Water was the normal medieval pronunciation of Walter." [4]

Early Origins of the Watters family

The surname Watters was first found in Cambridgeshire where they held a family seat from early times as Lords of the manor or Crowhurst.

Walter of Lorraine (d. 1079), was Bishop of Hereford, a native of Lotharingia or Lorraine, was chaplain of Edith or Eadgyth (d. 1075), the Confessor's queen, and as a reward of his industry was appointed to the bishopric of Hereford at Christmas 1060. [5]

Walter of Palermo (fl. 1170), was Archbishop of Palermo, primate and chancellor of Sicily, and was sent to Sicily by Henry II of England as an instructor for young William II of Sicily. [5]

Hubert Walter (c.1160-1205) was Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor. Weeton in Lancashire was an early home of the family. "This place, in Domesday Book called Widetun, was early in the family of Walter." [6]

"The church [of Woolvercott in Lancashire], situated on the bank of the Isis, has a sepulchral chapel on the north side, containing a stately monument to the family of Walter, of whom David Walter was High Sheriff of the county, and commanded a regiment of horse under Charles I. in the parliamentary war." [6]

About the same time, Greenalgh with Thistleton, again in Lancashire was home to another branch of the family. It was here that the manor of Greenalgh-cum-Thistleton was held in the reign of Charles I. [6]

As mentioned above, the surnames Walter and Watter were interchangeable so accordingly early rolls had a mixture of phonetic entries, both as a forename and surname.

The first record for the family was found in 1066 where the ancient Latin form of the name was listed, Walterusepiscopus. This entry was made at the time of the Conquest. Twenty years later, Robertus filius Walterii, Galterii was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Later Galterus le Lingedraper was listed at Oseney, Oxfordshire in 1210 and Petrus Walterus was listed at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk in 1182. The Pipe Rolls for 1191 in Suffolk included an entry for Petrus Walteri and Geoffrey Walter was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1296. [4]

Waterus de Cantelupo was listed in Lincolnshire c. 1135; Walterus, Walterus filius Herberti was similarly listed in Lincolnshire; John Watter was found in the Curia Regis Rolls for Warwickshire in 1214; Richard Wauter and Roger Watter were found in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire in 1275; Hugh Water was found in the Assize Rolls for Northumberland in 1279; Alice Waters in the Subsidy Rolls for Suffolk in 1327; and John Wauters in Warwickshire in 1348. [4]

Early History of the Watters family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Watters research. Another 144 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1189, 1847, 1412, 1412, 1566, 1630, 1611, 1678, 1566, 1630, 1604, 1675, 1628, 1629 and are included under the topic Early Watters History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Watters Spelling Variations

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 Walter, Walters, Watter, Watters, Walthew, Wattis and others.

Early Notables of the Watters family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John Walter or FitzWalter (d. 1412?), an early astrologer, educated at Winchester and Oxford. He died at Winchester, and was buried there about 1412. [5] Sir John Walter (1566-1630), was an English judge, second son of Edmund Walter of Ludlow, Shropshire. [5] Henry...
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Watters Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Watters Ranking

In the United States, the name Watters is the 3,077th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Watters family to Ireland

Some of the Watters family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Watters migration to the United States +

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 Watters or a variant listed above:

Watters Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Watters, who landed in Virginia in 1623 [8]
  • Grace Watters, who arrived in Virginia in 1623 [8]
  • William Watters, who landed in Virginia in 1623 [8]
  • Grace Watters, who settled in Virginia in 1673 with her husband Edward
  • Christopher Watters, who landed in Maryland in 1679 [8]
Watters Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • David Watters, who arrived in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1703 [8]
Watters Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Watters, aged 27, who landed in New York, NY in 1803 [8]
  • Thomas Watters, aged 24, who arrived in New York in 1812 [8]
  • Stephenson Watters, who landed in Mississippi in 1838 [8]
  • Mrs. Ann Watters, (b. 1815), aged 36, Cornish settler departing from Penzance aboard the ship "Marquis of Chandos" arriving in the United States on 7 June 1851 [9]
  • Miss Maria Watters, (b. 1840), aged 11, Cornish settler departing from Penzance aboard the ship "Marquis of Chandos" arriving in the United States on 7 June 1851 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Watters migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Watters Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Patrick Watters, aged 18 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Numa" departing from the port of Sligo, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847 [10]

Australia Watters migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Watters Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Watters, aged 21, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Carnatic"

New Zealand Watters 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:

Watters Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Watters, aged 29, a blacksmith, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • Marion Watters, aged 24, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • Jessie Watters, aged 3, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • Christian Watters, aged 3 months, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • Mr. John Watters, (b. 1811), aged 29, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Slains Castle" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 25th January 1841 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Watters (post 1700) +

  • Sam Watters (b. 1970), American songwriter and record producer
  • Richard "Ricky" Watters (b. 1969), former American NFL football running back
  • Lu Watters (1911-1989), American trumpeter and bandleader of the "Yerba Buena Jazz Band"
  • Loras Joseph Watters (1915-2009), American Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church
  • Harry Watters, American jazz trombonist
  • Henry Watters (1853-1924), Canadian politician, Mayor of the city of Ottawa (1924)
  • Warren Prall Watters (1890-1992), founding Archbishop of the Free Church of Antioch
  • Paul David Watters (b. 1968), Canadian politician
  • Charles J. Watters (1927-1967), Chaplain (Major) in the United States Army, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Andrée Watters (b. 1983), Canadian singer


  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to New York 1820 - 1891 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_new_york_1820_1891.pdf
  10. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 59)
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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