This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "east", east, and is topographical for someone who lived in the eastern part of a town or settlement, or outside it to the east. It could also be a regional name for someone who had migrated westwards and was therefore regarded as coming from the east. Other examples of such name are West, North and South. Topographical surname were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages.In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as East, Eastes and Este. One William East was an early emigrant to the New World Colonies, leaving the Port of London on the "Paule" in July 1635, bound for Virginia. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of John East and Margret Gilbert on August 1st 1597, at St. Lawrence, Pountney, and the marriage of Arthur East and Elizabeth Thornely on December 27th 1644, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph del Est, which was dated 1196 - 1237, recorded at Colchester, Essex, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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