The surname of LANCASTER was a locational name from Lancaster, a well known county town in Lancashire. The name was derived from the Old English word LANCESTRIA, and literally meant the dweller by the Roman Fort. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land. Early records of the name mention LONCASTRE (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Honor de Lancastre was recorded in County Lancashire in the year 1140. Roger de Lancastre of County Northumberland was recorded in the year 1273. Willelmus de Lancastre of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Robert Lankester registered at Oxford University in 1454. Lancaster is the name of the famous English Royal house, descended from John of Gaunt, including Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI. Its symbol is the red rose. Sir James Lancaster (1554-1618) was an English navigator, a soldier and merchant. He served under Francis Drake in the Armada Battle (1588), and went on the first English trading exhibition to the East Indies in 1591-94. He was knighted in 1603. Joseph Lancaster (1778-1838) was an educationist and Quaker, and in 1798 he opened a school in London based on a system which was taken up by the Nonconformists. The schools were undenominational, and the bible formed a large part of the teaching. Arms registered to William Lancaster of Cokbridge, whose daughter and heir married Hugh Lowther of Lowther, County Westmoreland, living during the reign of Henry VI. Granted Rutland 1615. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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