Recorded in several spellings as shown below, this is a very interesting English surname. It is of status origins and was first used to describe a stranger or newcomer to a community. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Old Norse word "gestr" meaning a guest or visitor, but withe more specific translation of a stranger. In those amcient times it was the custom for almost all houses of any quality to offer hospitality to a passing stranger or guest. These people would be treated according to their status, and whilst a lord would be shown a bed and given a full meal, others less fortunate would have to settle for a stable and a crust. The surname is ancient, being one of the first recorded and early examples include Richard le Gest in the register of documents of the English Lands of the Abbey of Bec; in Middlesex, in 1254, Thomas le Ges in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1275, and Batholomew le Gost in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in 1327. The various spelling forms include Guest, Gueste, Ghest, Ghost, Geest, Geeste, Gest, and Geste. As examples taken from church registers Margaret Geeste married Thomas Emberson on October 5th 1546 at St. Margarets Westminster, and Edward Guest married Joane Willson at St. Botolphs Bishopsgate, city of London on September 9th 1632. An interesting namebearer was Edmund Guest (1518 - 1577). He was the distributor of alms on behalf of Queen Elizabeth from 1560 - 1572, and was bishop of Salisbury from 1571 - 1577. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Benwoldus Guest. This was dated 1100 in the Old English Names Register, during the reign of King William 11nd of England, 1087 - 1100. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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