Recorded in a wide variety of spellings including MacAlester, MacAlister, MacAllaster, Mac Allister, MacCallister, MacCalester, MacCallaster, MacCalister, MacCalister, the short forms begining with 'Mc', and others such as Alastair and Callister, this is a Scottish surname. However its true origins are arguably Greek. It derives from the personal name 'Alexander', a name which is not recorded in Britain before the 11th century, when it was introduced by Crusaders (Knights Templar), returning from the Holy Land. The derivations are from 'Alexandros', meaning 'defender of men', from the elements 'Alexein', to defend, and 'aner', a man. Know where in Europe outside its homeland, is the name so thoroughly national as in Scotland. It has been claimed that it was first introduced by Queen Margaret, wife of King Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093), although this is unlikely. Early examples of recordings include Alexander Makalester in the registers of the Black Isle in the year 1500, whilst John Makalester had a 'precept of remission' in 1542. Angus McAlester was a follower of Murdow McCloyd who 'lead an attack on the galley of the laird of Balcomie' in 1601, whilst Ferquar MacAllister is recorded in Dunzean Croy in 1603. In London, Lydia, the daughter of Oliver and Lydia McAllester, was christened on February 16th 1746, at St. Annes Church, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ranald Makalestyr, which was dated 1455, in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland. This was also during the reign of King James 11nd, of Scotland, 1437 - 1460. Throughout the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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