This surname was a baptismal name 'the son of Sylvestor', a popular font name in the 13th century. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. In 1086 the compilation of the Domesday Book was ordered by William the Conqueror (1027-87), king of England from 1066. He was born in Failaise, the bastard son of Robert, Duke of Normandy, by Arlette, a tanner's daughter. On his father's death in 1035, the nobles accepted him as a duke. When Edward the Confessor, king of England died in 1066, William invaded England that Autumn, on 14th October, 1066 killing Harold (who had assumed the title of King). English government under William assumed a more feudal aspect, the king's tenants-in-chief and all title to land was derived from his grants, and the Domesday Book contains details of the land settlements, and the names of the owners of such. Siluester Capellanus was such a tenant. Other records of the name mention Robert filius Silvestre of the County of Cambridgeshire in 1273. Thomas Silvester was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and Willelmus Siluestre was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Siluester was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1642. 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 associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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