This interesting and unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from either of the places called "Shilstone" in Devon. The place near Modbury is recorded as "Silfestana" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Silvestane" in 1242, while the place in Drewsteignton is "Selvestan" in the Domesday Book, and "Shilston" in 1263. Both places share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the stone shelf", in other words a cromlech, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "Scylfe", ledge, shelf, referring to the flat stone on top of the cromlech, with "stan", stone. The modern surname can be found as Shilston and Shilstone, and is still found mainly in the West Country. One John Shilston was christened at Newton Saint Cyres, Devon, on December 28th 1560, and the marriage of Nicholas Shilston and Margarett Slee was recorded at Coldridge, Devon, on June 1st 1567. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willyam Shilston (marriage to Elizabeth Morryshe), which was dated November 19th 1550, at St. Mary Arches, Exeter, Devon, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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