Recorded as Ast, Nast (German) and Nestle (Swiss), this is a surname of ancient pre 7th century Germanic origins. It is or rather was, usually residential, and as such described either a person who lived in a forest or thickly wooded area, or in some cases was occupational for a forester or woodcutter. The words ast or nast literally mean branch (of a tree), although nast itself is a fused form of ein ast. Residential surnames were amongst the first to be created, since to name a person after a natural feature near to where they lived was simple identification in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In this case we have recordings from the very beginings of surnames. These include Ulrich dictus Ast of Mebkirch in the year 1271, Conrad Nesteli of Konstanz, in 1290, whilst nearly two and a half centuries later we have that of another Ulrich, but this time Ulrich Nast at Stuttgart in 1535. Throughout the centuries 'names' have continued to develop, and are likely to continue to do so in the future as modern communications make for ever easier movements of populations.
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