History of the Laughter Name
Many Laughter/Lawter families have used both spellings, even within close family units. To avoid confusion and long explanations on individual pages, I have used Laughter through most of the site. If you prefer Lawter for your family, please contact me. ... Frank Laughter, son of Henry Z. Laughter; nephew of Henry Z.'s brother, General Dewitt "Dee" Lawter :)
SEARCHING FOR LARTER
In my search for the origin of Larter, it's been found, in Suffolk and Norfolk at least, to be a variant spelling of the earlier surname Laughter and Lawter. Although there are other variant spellings, e.g. Lawghter, Lawtyr, Lawtar, Lauter, Lautter etc., The spelling Laughter and Lawter appeared to be the two most consistant forms during the period 1538 to the late 1600s. As the centuries past by, Larter seems to have become more popular, while Laughter and Lawter became less and less popular; but by the 1800s, Larter became the more common form in Suffolk and Norfolk.
It seems highly probable then that all Larter branches across the world that can trace their roots back to East Anglia, have a surname that came into being as a variant, or more correctly as a corruption of the surname Laughter/Lawter. This now led me to the next obvious question, what was the origin of Laughter/Lawter. A search through surnames books revealed nothing for Laughter, but Lawter was found as a variant of the Scottish placename, Lauder, the forerunner of surnames such as Lowther and Lawther. Although a few Lowters and Lawthers have been found as well as Lawter in Suffolk records, no evidence as yet has come to light that show Scottish descendancy. In fact, the majority of Lawters found in Suffolk and Norfolk appears on record as being used synonomously with Laughter, which in early parish records appear before the form Lawter.
Having found very little in surname books, I decide to try the Oxford English Dictionary. It appears, before the onset of surnames in Britain, that Laughter is the Middle English form of the Old English hleahtor, a word the Saxons brought from the Scandinavian countries. Apparently Laughter is the mother of a host of variants that can be found throughout the UK; one of which is found to be Lawter. This ties in nicely with my find of Laughter and Lawter being used synonomously with each other as a surname. Lafter and Latter are also said to be variant spellings of Laughter, both of which have also been found as surnames, albeit to a lesser degree.
Laughter was a word used when speaking of a 'full clutch of eggs laid by a fowl', as in – 'The hen is sitting on her laughter (full clutch) of eggs'. Further searching revealed a book titled 'A Glossary of Words Used in East Anglia' by Walter Rye and published in 1895. In that book references were found as follows–-Lafter or Latter–-The number of eggs laid by a fowl before she sits, (generally 13 or 15). In another book, 'Vocabulary of East Anglia ( Suffolk & Norfolk) Vol 2' by Rev Robert Forby, published 1830. Again we find–-Latter–-The number of eggs a hen lay before she begins to sit. Rev Forbes also wrote–-'Till I met with this northern word, so like Our own, I have always supposed the meaning to be, the hen has laid her latter or last egg. Sitting on a clutch of eggs, usually an odd number, but generally 13 or 15. Variants–-lawter and lacter. So again we find evidence of lawter, lafter and latter as variant spellings of the same word. One interesting reference came to light where the variant lafter was used when speaking of a woman who has had her last child--'…its her 13th baby this year. I hope she's laid her lafter now.'
It seem likely that laughter may have been given as a surname to someone who had a large family of 13 or 15 children; or possibly the surname was given to the 13th or 15th child of a family, as in--John, the laughter, lafter or latter, child of William. In time, this may eventually have become John the laughter (John, the last child), then John Laughter.
Posted by: Rex H. Redmon -- Genealogy.com, GENFORUM
Date: February 05, 2002
FROM: -- LARTER FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY
Evolution of "Laughter"
Variants and Corruptions
LAATER, LAFTER, LATER, LAWTER, LAYTER, LIGHTER, LOWTER and LOUTER;
while the midlands and southern region had:-
LAITER, LAYTARE, LOITER, LIGHTER, LAUGHTER, and LAWTER.
There are other variants but there's sufficient here to explain the point.
Eggs of the same LIGHTER. (1691)
She's laid out her LAITER. (1873)
Their hens are sitting on a good LAUCHTER of eggs. (1899)
These sentences/phrases strongly suggest that the early surname LAUGHTER/LAWGHTER may have been given to a man who had thirteen children--for example:-
John who has had his LAUGHTER,
William, one of John's LAUGHTER. (William, one of John's 13 children.)
NOTE: August 15, 2001-- Received from Ron Larter; Suffolk, England.
"I had the following information passed on to me. Is there any possibility of doing a follow-up at your end to find out if there's any further information of this John Lawter?
Regards. Ron of Suffolk.
Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2001 7:31 PM
Subject: Re: CD**590
Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1538-1940
The following spellings, and more, have been found on official records for LAUGHTER in the USA...
Laughter, Lawter, Lawther, Lother, Lowther, Larter, Lotta, Latta, Lotter, Loutter, Lauter, Latter
For consistency, "Laughter" has been used throughout the Laughter Genealogy site except where descendants have asked for Lawter.
"I have seen all the variant spellings listed [above], but the one that is not there is LAUDER, which is what it was in the Highland's of Scotland, and on the Rolls of Battle Abbey--as in Berwickshire, in Lauderdale. (The Maitland and Lauder Clan's lived together in that area--Maitland receiving more of the limelight, and power, and the Lauder's being demoted in court.) In America I have also noticed that there are people by the name of LEATHERS/LEATHER who are said to have been Lauder/Laughter/Lawter people, prior to their arrival. I found that to be most interesting because it speaks of the proper pronunciation of the name, and the phonetic attempt to reproduce it, by English speaking people.
"The site gives an interesting rendition of Anglo Saxon names, and derivatives... Aren't names interesting? The "au" in Lauder/Laughter is a French influence, and reflects the Norman influence on the people of that tribe. The Lauder's were said to be a family that descends from Robert Lauder, a follower of Sir William Wallace, and were considered Anglo-Norman's. The first people to migrate into England and Scotland were Norman, Saxon, and Flemmish. And, in the Hebrides, the mixture was Irish, Scottish, and Viking--what a blend! I love the statement that the Norman's were the "proudest, as well as the most civilized race, in the 11th and 12th centuries." The Flemmish were noted to be the most commercially advanced civilization in Europe, and brought with them the ability to trade and control commerce. Scotland has an interesting mixture of cultures--a unique blend. I have often said that we are a bunch of mongrels--there is no such thing as a "pure" Scotsman or Englishman!"
Mary Hicks... on Davy Crockett
"I have enjoyed following the Crockett's, of whom my husband is a descendant--they were Norman (Viking farmers settled that area of France in Normandy), and moved out of the area when the Protestant persecution began. Unlike other Norman/French people they didn't migrate to the Palatine Valley in Germany, they instead went to Ireland, and intermarried, prior to coming to America. Their name was De Crocketagne, which became corrupted to De Sauss Crocketagne, and then to Crocketagne, and then Crockett. Who would have dreamed that old "Davey" was from French nobililty? I have no idea what it was prior to the earliest form of the name--I can't get past Gabriel Gustave De Crocketagne."
All rights reserved.