This unusual surname of Germanic origin, is an interesting example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral haracteristics, or to habits of dress and occupation. The derivation, in this case, is from the Middle High German "veizet", corpulent, from the Old High German "feizit", stout, originally denoting a stocky, well built person. The cognate German name "Fett" derives from the Middle Low German "vett", plump, an element related to the Old Frisian "fett, fatt" and the Olde English "faet(t)", fat. In the modern idiom the surname has a number of variant spellings ranging from Faist, Faisst and Faistle (Swabia) to Feist, Fest, Geest and Feast. On January 19th 1583, Joes Faisst, an infant, was christened in Rheinhessen, Hessen, Germany, and on December 22nd 1609, Johannes Henricus, son of Hans Feisst, was christened in Ettenheim, Freiburg, Baden. The marriage of Richard Feast to Margery Might took place at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, on September 21st 1612. Walburga Feist, aged 42 yrs., of Schuttersthal, Germany, sailed from Bremen aboard the ship "Hermann" bound for New York, arriving at that port on June 4th 1866. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Fest, which was dated October 30th 1570, witness at a christening at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, 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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