This interesting and unusual name is European but ultimately Roman in origins. It has its origins in the given name Silvester, a derivative of the word silva, meaning wood, and denoting " a dweller in the 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 clerics. The personal name was first recorded in Leicestershire in 1154 and in Yorkshire in 1202 as Selvester. The first surname recording as shown below was Silvestr.The surname development includes: William Silvester of Lancashire in 1250, and William Sevester of Kent in 1455. The modern surname has a number of spellings including Silvester, Selvester, Sylvester, Slyvester, Syalvester, Siviter, and Seveter. One Abram Silvester, aged 14 years, was an early emigrant to the English colonies of the New World. He left the port of London in January 1634, bound for Virginia. A coat of arms granted to the family is that of a silver shield, charged with an oak tree eradicated green, and in chief two red crescents, the crest being a lion's head erased green. In Heraldry, the oak tree signifies Antiquity and Strength, and the crescent is associated with Faith and Hope. 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 Hampshire", during the reign of King John, 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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