This interesting and unusual name has its origins in a Latin given name, "Silvester", a derivative of the word "silva", meaning wood, and denoting "the 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 as "Silvester", and in 1204, in Yorkshire, as "Selvester", and the surname first appeared afterwards as "Silvestr" (see below). The surname development includes: William Silvester (1250, Lancashire), and William Sevester (1455, Kent). The modern surname has a number of variants, ranging from Silvester, Selvester and Sylvester, to Siviter and Seveter. One Abram Silvester, aged 14 yrs., was an early emigrant to the New World, leaving London in January 1634, bound for Virginia. A Coat of Arms granted to the Silvester family is a silver shield, with an oak tree eradicated green, and two red crescents in chief, 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, which was dated 1212, in the "Book of Fees for Hampshire", 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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