This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for a dyer of cloth. It derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century word 'dighester' an agent derivative of 'deag', meaning 'dye'. The name has, for the most part, retained its medieval spelling unlike many other occupational surnames, although both Dyster and Dexter was originally used to distinguish female dyers, but later they became uniform descriptions applying men to mean as well. In fact as a personal name, 'Dexter' is male nly. Early examples of the surname include John and Ralf Dextere in the Friary Rolls of Leicester in 1262, Robert le Digester in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1275, Walter Le Dighestre of Sussex in the same year, Simon Le Dykestre of Suffolk in 1305, and Thomas Dyster in the London Rolls of the Inquisition of circa 1290. Amongst the many interesting recordings associated with the surname are those of William Dexter of Warwick in the Assize Rolls for the county in 1378. A name early into America, Francis Dexter, aged 13, being a passenger on the ship 'Planter', which left London, England, on 'vj Aprilis ano 1635' bound for 'New Plymouth'. Some forty years later it is recorded that on 'Decembr the 15th 1679', a William Dexter left Virgina in 'the ship Anne & Jane for London'. Was this William the son of Francis Dexter? We believe so but it is not proven. The coat of arms has the distinctive blazon of a silver field, a red cross moline, between four green parrakeets. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Dighestre, which was dated 1260, in the Somerset County Registers, , during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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