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Family spelling variants includes Fosker

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FOSTER Family History


This very interesting English medieval surname, the family name of the Lords Oriel of Ireland, has at least four possible origins. The first is an occupational name for a saddle tree maker, a very important occupation seven hundred or more years ago. Here the derivation is from the Old French "fustier", itself originating from the word "fustre", meaning a block of wood. This term was introduced into Britain after the 1066 Norman French invasion. Secondly, and again occupational, the name may describe a maker or user of "forcetier", these being steel shears widely used in both agriculture and textile production...


Foster (Variants: Fosker) An English reduced form of Forster. From Old English ‘fostre’, derived from ‘fostrian’ meaning to nourish or rear. Similarly, perhaps an occupational name from Middle English ‘foster parent, nurse’.

The Old French derivative from "fustier", itself originating from the word "fustre", meaning a block of wood. This term was introduced into Britain after the 1066 Norman- French invasion. Although, other origins are also possible – a development of forcetier ‘a maker of scissors’ like steel shears widely used in agriculture and textiles. It is also possibly a variant of Fewster.

From the Dutch, Forster; from the Flemish, Fostier; in the Domesday Book, Forst; a personal name.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Durand le Fuster, which was dated circa 1179, in the "Register of St. Bartholomew's Hospital" in London, during the reign of King Henry II, known as "The Builder of Churches" (1154 – 1189). Another early bearer was recorded in 1373 - John Foster in Colchester Court Rolls (Essex).

In 1891, the frequency in England and Wales was 41,291 and 1,036 in Scotland. In 1881, the surname was widespread and it was recorded that Foster was a top surname reported in Caythorpe, Nottinghamshire. In the same year, the most common occupation in the UK was Coal Miner along with Farmer and Agricultural Labourer also reported as the top 3 jobs worked by Foster. A less frequent occupation for the surname was Labourer.

A British convict, William Foster was transported aboard “Albion” on 17 May 1823 settling in New South Wales, Australia.


1881, 1891 Census

1881 Census in Nottinghamshire

Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016

1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain

1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain


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