Recorded as Best, Beste, Bestie, Biesty, Bestiman, Bestman, and probably others this is an English surname. it is medieval and job descriptive and derives from the pre 7th century word 'beste', meaning a beast, the generic word for cattle, and hence a keeper of cattle. In the robust fashion of the day, it may also have been a nickname for a brutal person - although it is also possible given the robust humour of the period, that it may well have meant the reverse! Either way the name has been prominent in British History, and is recorded eight times in the National Biography, Captain Thomas Best (1570-1638) broke the power of Portugal in the East in 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. This was dated 1260 in the register of the Assize Court of Cheshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216-1272. 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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