This interesting name derives from the Old French "maistre", master, preceded by the definite article "le", and was originally given as an occupational name to someone who was master of his craft. In early instances the surname was frequently borne by substantial freeholders who had labourers under them to work their lands, where, as in Scotland the eldest sons of barons had this title. The surname first appears on record in England in the early 13th Century, (see below). Other early recordings include Angnes le Maistre, "The Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire", (1273), and John Maistre, "The Close Rolls of London", (1394).The surname is widely recorded in church registers of the Channel Islands from the mid 17th Century where it is likely to be a French Huguenot introduction. On June 15th 1659, Piere Le Maitre and Jeanne Morel were married in Jersey, and on June 6th 1778, Racel le Maitre married a Pierre de Gouby in Vale, Guernsey. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Meistre, which was dated 1202, "The Curia Regis Rolls of Berkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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