The surname of McLEISTER was derived from the Old English word 'lite' an occupational name, a dyer of cloth. The family of this name originated in Drimfearn in the 10th century; they served as hereditary arrow makers to the clan McGregor in Glenorchy. The surname has been associated with the Gaelic LEASTAR, meaning cup, boat, receptacle (used in a figurative sense of people as recipients of divine grace). The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour.
An Anglian surname, early records mention John de Letstere 1305 Suffolk. Richard le Lyster was documented in 1327 in the County of Derbyshire. The Norfolk Rebellion of 1381 was commonly known as 'Lister's Rebellion' because it was headed by John Lister a dyer of Norwich. 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 to be found in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884
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