Recorded as Exte, Exeter, Hext, and Hexter, this is is an English medieval locational surname. It seemingly derives from either the River Exe in Devonshire or the city of Exeter, formerly known as 'The jewel in the West', until destroyed by the German air force in the Second World War (1939 - 1945). According to the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in the year 1880 (quote) 'that it would be strange if Exeter was not represented in our directories, and it can only be represented by Hexter, as Exeter does not exist as a surname'. Canon Bardsley however was wrong on this occasion. He did not have the benefit of computerised research which has discovered many things about surnames not known to the Victorians. This particular name is recorded in several spellings and these do include Exeter, although the dialectals Hext and Hexter, seem to be the most popular spelling. The place name means 'The Fort on the River Exe', and in that respect is of Roman origins. The surname is recorded as early as the year 1273 when John de Excestre is recorded in the 'Hundred Rolls' of the county of Wiltshire. Later examples include Walter Hext of Somerset in the Tax Rolls of 1327, Elizabeth Exeter, who married Edward Haylock at the church of St Mary Magdalene, on August 6th 1634, James Exter, who married Elizabeth Redford at St James church, Dukes Place, and Thomas Hexter, a witness at Holy trinity, Paddington, all city of London, on November 3rd 1869.
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