Recorded as Silvester, Sevester, Siveter, and Siviter, this surname is English. It has its origins in the Roman (Latin) given name of Silvester, from the word "silva", meaning wood, and originally describing a person who lived in a wood. The personal name was borne by three Popes, including a contemporary of Constantine the Great, and seems to have been first used in England by church clerics after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The personal name was first recorded in Leicestershire in the year 1154 as Silvester, and in 1204, in Yorkshire, as Selvester. The surname first appeared shortly afterwards as Silvestr (see below). The early surname development included: William Silvester of Lancashire in 1250, William Sivetr in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in 1379, whilst later Abram Silvester, aged fourteen, was an early emigrant to the New England colonies of the Americas, leaving London in January 1634, bound for Virginia. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of a silver shield, with an oak tree eradicated green, and two red crescents in chief. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Silvestr. This was dated 1212, in the "Book of Fees" for the county of Hampshire, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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