This interesting and unusual surname, recorded in London church registers from the late 16th Century, has three distinct possible origins. Firstly, the name may be a variant of the English occupational name Bester, from the Medieval English "best(e)", a beast, plus the agent suffix "er"; hence, "best -er" or herdsman. One, John le Bestere was recorded in the 1279 "Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire". Secondly, Bister may be a dialectal variant of the French occupational name "Bastier", a saddler. Baldwynus le Bastere appearing in the 1230 "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire" is the earliest recorded namebearer from this source. The final source is locational from Bicester in Oxfordshire. Recorded as Bernecester in the Domesday Book of 1086, the place was so called from the old English "byrgen", burial-mound, plus "ceaster", Roman fort. The placename is pronounced "Bister", and hence the surname. On September 15th 1599 Jane Bister and John Conynge were married in St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rowland Bister, (marriage to Joyce Hayward), which was dated July 13th 1590, St. Lawrence Pountney, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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