- This interesting surname, with variant forms Tester, Testar and Testard, if of French origin, and was originally given as a nickname for somebody with a large head, from the Old French word "testard", a pejorative of "teste", head (from the Late Latin "testa", an earthenware pot). A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. The name itself dates from the early 12th Century: Hugh Testard was recorded in 1172, in Documents illustrative of the Social and Economic History of the Danelaw. Other early recordings include: Henry Testard, recorded in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire; Thomas Tester, recorded in the 1551 Sussex Wills; and the christening of Walter, son of Walter Testor, on July 10th 1643, at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf, London. Elizabeth Tester, an early settler in the New World, died in the parish of St. Michael's, Barbados, on March 10th 1678, according to the parish register of that time. The earliest recording of the surname in the Church Registers of Hampshire was that of the marriage of Mary Tester and Richard Stephens, on September 8th 1734, at Droxford. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Testard, which was dated 1135, in the "Cartulary of Osney Abbey", Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. 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.
Surnames reference. 2013.