This interesting name has two possible origins, from an English occupational surname and from an Irish personal name. Firstly, it is an occupational name for a sexton or church warden. It derives from the Middle English "sexteyn", which comes from the Old French "secrestein", itself originally from the Latin "sacristanus". Variants of this form include Sexten, Sextone, Sexon and Secretan. The first recording of this form was in the early 13th Century. One William Sextain appears in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1327. The second origin is from the Anglicized form of the Gaelic Irish "O'Seastnain", descendant of "Seastnan", a personal name of uncertain origin; though it may have been originally a byname meaning "bodyguard" from "seasuighim", "to resist" or "defend". Variants of this form include O'Sesnane, O'Shesnan and Shasnan. Today the name is mainly found in Limerick city. Eight Sextons have been mayors there, the most notable of whom was Edward Sexton (1535). A Coat of Arms granted to a Sexton family is gold, an eagle displayed green, armed azure a bend gobony silver and gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tomas Sekerstein, which was dated 1203, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", 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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