Recorded in a variety of spellings including Magister, Master, the patronymics Masters and Masterson, the occupational Masterman, this is an ancient Anglo-Scottish surname, but one originally of Roman (Latin) origins. It derives from the word 'magister', meaning a superior, one who was in charge. This word dates back to the very dawn of written history, at least two thousand b.c. It could mean a chief or elder of a tribe or village, and later, a more general meaning of an educated person, when few were, such as a teacher or magistrate. Whilst almost certainly a word used during the Roman occupation of England between 55 and 410 a.d., it did not come into more general use for seven hundred years later, and then after the Norman Invasion of 1066. The new administration insisted that all charters, and other transactions were recorded in Latin, a system and its methods, which in many respects both in England and Scotland, has survived into the 20th century. In England, French, was imposed as the official language, but this edict had only limited success, and was abandoned by Edward 1st of England in 1296. However in medieval times 'masters' in their various forms, were required everwhere, since they represented the secular or non religious need for academics. Early examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving rolls and charters of the period include: Angues le Maistre, in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridge in 1273, and Thomas Magistre, in the same rolls. Robert Maistersone was a 'hostage' in Galloway, Scotland in 1300, Richard Maysterman, is recorded in 'Pardons' roll' for Cambridge, in 1383, William Maisters of Stafford in 1327, and Johannes Maister and Willelmus Mausterman in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in 1379.
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