This ancient surname has two specific origins, both medieval and occupational. The first is a developed form of the Old French "fustrier", and refers to one who manufactured wooden saddle trees from a "fustre", a baulk of timber. The second possible origin has a similar French background, deriving from "forcetier", a development of "forcettes", and describing a maker of chisels or shears. These industrial and trade backgrounds do not eem to have been a bar to the progress of the Forsters, and this is reflected in the Baronetcy of the Forsters of Bamborough Castle, Northumberland, which dates back to the early 15th Century, Sir John Forster, 1502 - 1560, being warden of the Marches, and Sheriff of Northumberland. Interestingly, not only was Forster one of the earliest surnames in the Old World, it was similarly recorded in early American history: Josiah Forster was recorded as embarqued on the ship "Truelove" bound for the Carolinas on June 10th 1635, whilst in 1673, his son, Thomas, was a member of the Governing Council of the West Indies. Early recordings of the name include: William le Forster of Lincoln, in 1341; Richard Forster (1546 - 1616), President of the College of Physicians; and Thomas Forster, General of the Old Pretender's army, who surrendered at Preston in 1716, and later escaped to France. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Forster, which was dated 1315, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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