The surname of FORREST was a locational name 'the dweller in or near the forest', or it was an occupational name for a keeper or worker in one. The medieval forrests was not, as today, but referred to large areas of woodland which was reserved by law for the purposes of hunting by the king and his nobles. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention William de Forest, a tenant of the Douglas's in the barony of Newlands, Scotland in 1376. Morgan de Forest of Aberdeen was listed in 1402. William of Forest was physician to the Queen of Scots in the year 1430. Robert Forest, a Scotsman, had liberty to pass through England in 1453.
The names introduced into Britain by the Normans during and in the wake of the Invasion of 1066, are nearly all territorial in origin. The followers of William the Conqueror were a pretty mixed lot, and while some of them brought the names of their castles and villages in Normandy with them, many were adventurers of different nationalities attached to William's standard by the hope of plunder, and possessing no family or territorial names of their own. Those of them who acquired lands in England were called by their manors, while others took the name of the offices they held or the military titles given to them, and sometimes, a younger son of a Norman landowner, on receiving a grant of land in his new home dropped his paternal name and adopted that of his newly acquired property.
This was the name of an old Shropshire family who once held custody of part of the Wrekin forest. One of the earliest bearers of the name was Hugh Forester, who witnessed a document in 1187. His son, who was living in 1200, was known as Robert de Wellington the Forester.
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