This surname VEST was an English, French, Spanish and Italian given name, originally derived from the Latin SILVESTER, a derivation of SILVA (meaning wood). The name was borne by three popes, including a contemporary of Constantine the Great. The name has travelled throughout Europe in many forms, which include WEST, WESTE, VESTE, FESTUS, SELVESTER, SYLVESTER, VESTRI, FESTERSON, VESTRIS and SELIVERSTOV, to name but a few. Porcius FESTUS (died 62AD) was the Roman procurator of Judaea, who succeeded Felix in 60AD. In 62 the apostle Paul defended himself before him (Acts XXV). During the Middle Ages the Spanish term SILVA disappeared, but in the west of the Peninsula the name survived with the altered sense of meaning 'the dweller by the brambles or thicket'. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. Auguste VESTRIS (1760-1842) was the French dancer and teacher, born in Paris, the illegitimate son of Gaetano VESTRIS (1729-1808). He made his debut at the age of twelve, going on to join the Paris Opera. He became the most celebrated dancer in Europe. The French Revolution drove him to London for five years, but he returned in 1793 to continue teaching in Paris until 1816. As early as the year 1100, it was quite common for English people to give French names to their children, and the earliest instances are found among the upper classes, both the clergy and the patrician families. The Norman-French names used were generally the names most commonly used by the Normans, who had introduced them into England during the Norman Invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066.
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