Recorded in a wide range of spellings including Lister (English & Scottish), Lyster, Lester, Lestor (English), McInlester, McLeister, Laister, Litster, Lidster, and the rare Ledgister and Ledster (Scottish), this interesting surname has two known origins. Firstly it may be occupational for a textile dyer, from the Middle English word "litster", meaning to dye. This term was used principally in Northern England and specifically Yorkshire, where to this day, the surname is principally found in that region. Secondly the surname may be of Scottish origins and again occupation, deriving from a fused spelling of the early Gaelic Mac an Fleisdeir, meaning the son of the arrow-maker. The surname in either case is medieval dating back to the 13th century (see below) with in Scotland the recording of Aleyn le Littester of Edinburghshire who rendered homage to the Republican Government in 1296, whilst In England Richard le Lyster appears in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Derbyshire in 1327. Early church registers of the city of London include the christenings of Lawnslet Lister on the 24th September 1539 at Allhallows, Honey Lane, and that of Thomas Ledster at St Giles Cripplegate, on June 24th 1641. Thomas Lister sailed from London for the New World colony of Virgina, on the ship "Paula" in July 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Litster. This was dated 1286, in the Court Rolls of the manor of Wakefield, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England and known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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