This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called 'Dunster' in Somersetshire. The place is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as simply 'Torre', from the Old English pre 7th Century 'torr', high rock, rocky peak, hill, and is first recorded in its modern form in 1138, as 'Dunestore', with the addition of the Old English personal name 'Dunn(a)', originally a byname meaning 'the dark one', from 'dunn', dark-coloured, and renamed from some early owner of the land. The term 'tor', found mainly in the West Country, is Celtic in origin, from the Cornish 'tor', prominence, mountain, and is also found as 'tor' in Welsh and 'torr' in Gaelic. One William Dunster was christened at Uffculme, Devon, on July 10th 1631, and the marriage of Thomas Dunster and Joan Chicke was recorded at St. Nicholas, Combe, Somersetshire, on February 27th 1654. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Dunsterre, which was dated 1327, Exchequer Lay Subsidy Rolls, Somersetshire, during the reign of King Edward 111, 'The Father of the Navy', 1327-1377. 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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