Recorded in several spellings including Bavester, Bavister, Baversor, Bannister, Ballister, Baluster and many others, this is an English and sometimes French surname. It has several possible origins. The first is clearly English and locational from the village of Baverstock in the county of Wiltshire. According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names, the place name and hence the latter surname means "Babb's place." This may be correct as Babb or Babba were personal names which did appear in a number of places. Whether Babb means baby is open to conjecture. The second possible origin is East Anglian, and a dialectal of the French word baccestre meaning literally a village baker, whilst the third possible origin is also French but ultimately from the Roman (Latin) ballastiere. This could mean an artillery engineer, or a maker of balestres, which when hand held, were called cross-bows. Caxton, the first English printer, in 1489 in one of his early publications referred to "balestes and archers". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Balister. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Edward Ist, known to history as the Hammer of the Scots, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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