This most interesting and unusual surname, with variant spellings Postans, Postan, Postance, Poston, Postings, etc., is of topographical or occupational origin, describing a dweller by or keeper of the postern-gate, deriving from the Old Norman/French word "posterle", "posterne", a postern-gate. The name was probably introduced to England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages.Job descriptive surnames, however, originally denoted the actual occupation of the bearer and later became hereditary. One John de la Posterne appeared in the Liber Feodorum of Wiltshire in 1242. Cicile Poston, daughter of Thomas Poston was christened at Rotherham, Yorkshire, on September 21st 1547. John Postans, alias "Little John" was mentioned in Unpublished Essex Records in 1575. Alice Poston married William Bowman on June 24th 1607 at St. Mary at Hill, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mabill de la Posterne, which was dated 1203, in the "Pipe Rolls of Essex", 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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