This interesting surname is in fact job descriptive and derives from the Olde English pre 7th century 'beste' - meaning a 'keeper of beasts', a cow herd or cattle dealer. In the modern idiom the surname has several variant spellings including Best, Beste, Bester, Bestar, Bestiman and Bestman. Sometimes, in the robust fashion of the day, it was a nickname for a 'brutal person' - although it is also possible that it meant the reverse! Either way the name has been prominent in British History, it is recorded eight times in the National Biography, Captain Thomas Best (1570-1638) broke the power of Portugal in the East (1612), and was later Master of Trinity House, whilst W.D.Best (1767-1845) was the Lord Chief Justice and the first Baron Wynford. As a point of social history, one Thomas Best was convicted as a Monmouth rebel by the bloody Judge Jefferies in 1685 and sentenced to ten years hard labour in Barbadoes. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wilkin le Best which was dated 1260 in the Cheshire Assize Court during the reign of King Henry 111 known as the Frenchman 1216-1272 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.
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