This interesting surname is of medieval English origin and is a dialectal variant of the locational name Coton, from a place so called in Leicestershire. The derivation is from the Middle English "cot(e)", a shelter, itself a development from the Old English pre 7th Century "cotlif", a manor, and "cotsetla", a cottager. During the Middle Ages, it became customary for those migrating from their place of birth to adopt the village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Among the early recordings in leicestershire is the marriage of Mary Coaten and Richard Wright on April 13th 1694 at Sharnford, and the christening of Richard Coaten on December 30th 1720 at Lutterworth. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Randulf de Cotton, which was dated 1185, The Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire, during the reign of King Henry 11, "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.