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Foster Genealogy and Foster Family History Information

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About the Foster surname

This very interesting English medieval surname, the family name of the Lords Oriel of Ireland, has at least four possible origins. The first is an occupational name for a saddle tree maker, a very important occupation seven hundred or more years ago. Here the derivation is from the Old French "fustier", itself originating from the word "fustre", meaning a block of wood. This term was introduced into Britain after the 1066 Norman French invasion. Secondly, and again occupational, the name may describe a maker or user of "forcetier", these being steel shears widely used in both agriculture and textile production. A third possibility is that Foster is a contracted or dialectal spelling of Forester, a term which described a civil officer in charge of a forest. John Forester, who was recorded in the 1183 Pipe Rolls of the county of Surrey, was the first recorded bearer of this name. The last possible origin is very unusual. Here the derivation is from a shortened spelling of the Olde English pre 7th Century compound "cild-fostre", and as such an occupational nickname for a foster parent or possibly a foster child. John Foster, who was recorded in the 1373 Court Roll of the borough of Colchester, Essex, was of this source. The surname was one of the very first into the New England colonies of America. John Foster, age unknown, being recorded as being "alive in Virginea, on February 18th 1623". The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Durand le Fuster, which was dated circa 1179, in the "Register of St. Bartholomew's Hospital", London, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189.