The surname of ALABASTER was derived from the Old French word 'arbalester' a name given to a bowman or archer. The term was not only used as an occupational name for a soldier trained to used one of these weapons, but also denoted a category of feudal tenant in sergantry, no doubt originally one who provided armed service with a crossbow. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Early records of the name mention Henry le Alblaster, 1300 County Devon. Reginald le Arbelstre, 1327 ibid. William Abbalestier of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Robert Eton married Margaret Aleblaster in London in the year 1565. Buried. Mr Thomas Allyblaster (gent) St. Peter, Cornhill, London in 1624. The name is also spelt Allblaster, Arblaster and Allesbaster. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. When the coast of England was invaded by William The Conqueror in the year 1066, the Normans brought with them a store of French personal names, which soon, more or less, entirely replaced the traditional more varied Old English personal names, at least among the upper and middle classes. A century of so later, given names of the principal saints of the Christian church began to be used. It is from these two types of given name that the majority of the English patronymic surnames are derived and used to this day. The name is also spelt Armbrister, Armbrust and Armbruster.
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