Recorded as Lanstar, Leimster, Leinster, Linster and others, this unusual and very interesting surname is English and Irish, although the ultimate origin is probably French. It derives from the fused form of the name "Le Maistre", meaning literally "The Master," and as such describing either a schoolmaster, or a master of his craft, one who employed apprentices, or possibly as a nickname for somebody who presumed to be a Master. The surname as Master or Masters, is ancient, being recorded in England as far back as the year 1202. It would seem that it had a second introduction to the country as Lemaistre through the 17th century French Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution in their own country. In England and subsequently in Ireland, the surname was sometimes written as Lemstor and Leimster, leading to the current spellings based upon phonetic rendering. As examples of recordings we have in England that on April 27th 1586, Harry Linester who married Katherine Saywell at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, whilst in Ireland in 1692, Lancelot Leimster and Jane Brown were married at Clones, in County Monaghan. It is thought that bearers of the name most likely arrived to apply their skills in the then flourishing flax industry. In the course of time, the name Leimster was altered by folk etymology or bad spelling to look as if it was from the adjoining province of Leinster. This place name originated from the 9th century word 'Laighenster', meaning the place of the pointed spears. On November 20th 1865, Sarah, daughter of Charles Leinster and Catherine Jane Hennan, was christened in Belfast, County Antrim. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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