This unusual and interesting name is a peculiarly Northern English variant of the more familiar surname Christy or Christie, itself usually found in the northern counties and in Scotland. The surname is of early medieval English origin, and derives from a diminutive form of either of the personal names Christian and Christopher. In England, the name Christian was introduced by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066; it is adopted from the Latin "Christianus", follower of Christ, and was used in the same form as both a male and a female given name. Christopher is also from the Latin "Christopherus", itself adopted from the Greek "Khristophoros", from "Khristos", Christ, and "pher-, phor-", carry; hence, "Bearer of Christ". This name was borne by a 3rd Century martyred saint, and its popularity in the Middle Ages was due mostly to the legendary story in which he carried the infant Christ across a ford, and so became the patron saint of travellers. The surname from the diminutive form of either of these given names is first recorded in 1412, when Thomas Crysty is listed in the Yorkshire Feet of Fines, while the first of the name in Scotland is John Chrysty, burgess of Newburgh in 1457. The variant form Christer, also found as Crister and Crester, is well recorded in County Durham, where the marriage of William Crister and Ellinor (no surname) took place in Egglescliff, on October 16th 1575, and William Christer or Christopher was christened at Coniscliffe, in 1590. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rychard Christer, which was dated October 25th 1574, marriage to Agnes Teyler, in Tattershall, Lincolnshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "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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