This name is of locational origin either from Liston in Essex or from the old barony of Liston, now included in the parish of Kirkliston, Scotland. The former, recorded as Lissington in Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, dated 995, and as Listuna in the Domesday Book of 1086, is so called from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name Lissa, itself a pet form of Leofsige, plus "ing", people of, and "tun", a farm or settlement, hence, "the settlement of Lissa's people". The Scottish Liston probably has the same origin and the surname from this source has, in fact, an earlier recording than the English one, (see below). Around 1260 a Robert de Liston was chaplain to William, Bishop of St. Andrew's. One, Godfrey de Liston of Essex was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of that county, dated 1272, and a Johannes de Liston in "The Calendarium Genealogicum of Essex", dated 1303. Robert Liston (1794 - 1847), educated at Edinburgh University was a skilful surgeon, best known in connection with the "Liston splint". His chief work "practical surgery" appeared in 1837. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger de Liston who witnessed a charter by Richard, bishop of St. Andrew's, which was dated 1163, in the "Chartulary of the priory of St. Andrew's", during the reign of King Malcolm IV of Scotland, 1153 - 1165. 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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