In spite of its slightly occupational appearance, this surname is locational. It derives from the old fishing village of 'Craister' in Northumberland, and is recorded in a number of spellings of which the two most popular are Craister and the dialectal Craster. The first recording of the village appears in the rolls known as the 'Feet of Fines' in 1242, and the name itself is clearly Roman. It originates from the Latin 'cestre' meaning a fort or camp, plus the Olde English 'cra' meaning 'crow'. This suggests that the original site was a look-out post, a 'crows nest', which given its proximity to Hadrians Wall is a logical analysis. The surname is much later than the village, and seems to have been first recorded in Berwick on Tweed (see below). The rapid appearance of the surname through Northumberland, and shortly afterwards, London, suggests that the village may have been 'cleared' of the majority of its tenants, as a result of some local disaster or change of farming or even fishing conditions. The early recordings include Catherine Craster, daughter of Edward Craster, christened at Morpeth, on April 22nd 1627, and Mary Craister, who married William Turner, so spelt, at Woodhorn, Northumberland, on June 30th 1633. Other recordings from further afield include Edward Craister, who married Anne Heath at St James Church, Dukes Place, London, on February 2nd 1685, and William Croster, an unusual variant spelling, who married Sarah Howe at St Botolphs church, Bishopgate, London, on July 26th 1689. The coat of arms granted in Northumberland is quartered, gold and red. In the first quarter is a crow proper, whilst the crest is a raven, also proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Craister, which was dated June 23rd 1580, who married at Berwick on Tweed, 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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