Said to be recorded in small numbers in some ten counties of England and Northern Ireland, this is an unusual surname. The International Genealogical Index "suggests" that it may be a form of Highstead, now a locality and formerly a village in the county of Kent, which if so, has been dialectually corrupted with this surname. However this is very possible particularly if as seems likely we are dealing with a "lost" medieval village surname. What is certain is that all "names" originally had a meaning, and it is very difficult to allocate a meaning to Isted or the other recorded spellings of Ested, Istead, Istedd and others.The place name which sounds about right is East Head, a village far away in the north of Scotland. Sadly there is no evidence of this being the source of any surname. There are a number of places called Ystrad in Wales, but there are few locational names in Wales, and Ystrad is not apparently one of them. Highstead means "high farm" or literally a farm probably further up a hill or valley than Low or Lower farm. The surname was certainly recorded in Elizabethan times (1558 - 1603) with that of Richard Isted at the church of St Michael Bassishaw, in the city of London, on May 31st 1601.
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