Seemingly recorded as Vist, Viste and possibly Vitre, (French), and Wist, Wister, Wurst and Wurster (German), this is a surname of probably locational origins. It may originate from the Roman word 'vista' meaning a view through trees, but is believed more likely to come from two places in Germany called 'Wurst'. This word literally means deserted, although as these places exist, it would suggest that the name originally referred to a place that was deserted, but is again in occupation, and nobody got around to giving it a more appropriate name! It is therefore possibly that wurst is cognate with the British 'Lost' medieval village, of which there are literally thousands of examples. Many of these were deserted in the Middle Ages because of plague or changes in agriculture, but became occupied again in later centuries. However we are not aware of any which are called 'deserted' or similar. Locational names by their very nature are 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes and moved somewhere. There they were given as their surname and making for easy identification the name of their former town or village. The further they travelled from the original spot, the greater the likely changes in spelling and pronunciation. In this case we have the recordings of Ulrich Wurst of Oberturheim, in 1383, whilst in the surviving French church registers Perrine Viste married Pierre Demaure at Breteil, Ille-et-Villaine, on February 18th 1772.
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