1) One who makes knives and other cutting utensils, from the French <i>coutel</i> meaning knife.
The OED quotes Leland who wrote: Ther be many Smithes and Cuttelars in Halamshire, and also lists two earlier uses of the word, from c.1400 and c.1430. However, the occupational surname is on record in the Sheffield area more than a century earlier: 1297 Robertus le Coteler, Sheffield
1333 Adam Coteler, Sheffield. In the poll tax both the surname and occupation were well established there: 1379 Johannes Coteler, Sheffield
Ricardus Hyngham, cotteler, Ecclesfield. Several other taxpayers were listed on that occasion, including Thomas Hauk’ coteler of Handsworth who paid 12d, that is three times the standard rate. It should be noted that there were cutlers in York from the late thirteenth century: 1298 Johannes de Brampton, coteller and frequently thereafter. The possibility is that some of these were retailing ‘cutlery’ rather than producing it: 1334 Adam de Ireland, cotoler vel haberdasscher. Other cutlers were recorded in many parts of the West Riding in the poll tax of 1379
in Beeston, Pontefract, Ripon, Selby and several small villages, a clear indication of how widespread the occupation then was. One interesting group was in the small township of Ferry Fryston: it included Johannes Coteller, smyth, several families with Coteller as a by-name, six additional smiths who paid tax as tradesmen, and Johannes de Breres, shether. The spelling ‘cutler’ was recorded occasionally in the early period and it had become the conventional form by the sixteenth century: 1441 Richard Cuteler, Darnall
1496 Richard Bower of Ecclesall, cuttelar
1540 Thomas Creswyke of Olerton, cuttler. It is likely that throughout that period the cutlers were making items such as scissors and scythes which would later become the work of specialist craftsmen, and that they did their own grinding. They were in any case distinct from the farriers and smiths whose work ranged from shoeing horses to fashioning locks and arrowheads.