This unusual and interesting name is English or perhaps German. It is almost certainly occupational, and to derive from the pre 7th century word grist, which can be either English or German. It has the meaning of grain that has been ground. However given the famous phrase "grist to the mill," it is surprising that the word was apparently not used in the sense of corn to be ground until the 15th century, which would be late for a surname. Occupational surnames whilst amongst the earliest to be created only became hereditary if and when a son followed the father into the same line of business.If he chose something else, the original name died out. Early examples of recordings taken from surviving church registers of the city of London include Georgius Grist who married Jana Parker on May 23rd 1631 at the famous church of St. Martin-in-the-Field, Westminster, whilst John Grist was christened on December 15th 1689 at St. Dunstan's Stepney, in the city of London. The first recorded spelling in those registers is that of Robart Griste at St Botolphs Bishopgate, city of London, on April 9th 1585. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st known as "Good Queen Bess" (1559 - 1603). Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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