The surname of FOSTER was derived from the Old English CILDFOSTRE - a foster parent, a nurse, one who looked after babies and small children. The name also was used of a Forester, an officer in charge of a forest 'one used in the employment of looking after the forest'. In 1277, at Hitcham in County Suffolk, one Robertus Foster, a free tenant, was paid 4 shillings and 8 pennies for 17 acres of land. He had to guard all the woods of his lord, the Bishop of Ely, and had various forest privileges including one log for his fire at Christmas, all trees and branches in the woods blown down in a storm and the right to keep his pigs in the wood. Other records of the name also mention John Foster of the County of Somerset in 1373. Dionicia Foster of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Walter le Forster of the County of Yorkshire was documented in the year 1400. Robert Foster of the County of Yorkshire was recorded in 1460. The name was taken to Scotland by settlers, and Patrick Foster and John Fostar, who witnessed a charter in 1488, appear to be the first on record in Scotland. Alexander Fostere was recorded in Edinburgh in 1500. A notable member of the name was Sir Michael Foster (1689-1763) the English judge and text-writer, born in Marlborough, Wiltshire. He was a judge of high reputation and held a deep respect for personal liberty. His collection of reports have been a great influence on the development of modern criminal law. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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