This unusual name is of ancient British origin and is a locational name from Devonshire denoting either residence by the River Clyst or in one of the places called "Clyst" along its banks. The river name was recorded as "Clyst" as early as 937 and is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century word "hluttor", meaning "clean", the name thus meaning "clean stream". The places along the river are "Broad Clyst", "Clyst Hydon", "Clyst St. George", "Clyst St. Lawrence", "Clyst St. Mary", and "Clyst William". The latter place means "the source of the Clyst", it is recorded as "Clistewelme" in 1270 which shows the derivation from the Old English "aewielm", source of a river. One Thomas Clist married Ann Pharoh on the 28th October 1686, at St. Sidwells', Exeter. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alyce Clist, daughter of William, christened, which was dated 16th November 1578, St. Botolph without Aldgate, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Good Queen Bess, 1558 - 1603. 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.

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