Chester History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In ancient Anglo-Saxon England, the ancestors of the Chester surname lived in Chester, which is the capital city of the county of Cheshire, which lies on the border between England and Wales; it is the northernmost county on the border. Devastated in the 11th century by border wars between William the Conqueror and the Welsh, Cheshire's border with Wales fluctuated over the next several centuries. Today, the western portion of the Domesday era county is in Wales.

"Many places where Roman and other military stations (castra) existed are called chesters, and residence at such a spot may have conferred the surname. " [1]

Early Origins of the Chester family

The surname Chester was first found in Chester. This ancient Roman and later, Saxon city was known as Legacaestir in 735 and by the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, it was known as Cestre. "The city was originally known as Deoua from its situation on the River Dee, but later was known as Legacaestir, meaning 'city of legions.' " [2]

"From the city of Chester, the capital of Cheshire, England, founded by the Romans. The name is derived from the Latin Castrum; Saxon, ceaster, a fortified place, a city, a castle or camp, it being a Roman station where the twentieth legion was quartered. " [3]

Robert Chester ( fl. 1182), was an early English astronomer and alchemist who took his name from the place of his birth. "Trained in the ordinary learning of his time, he turned aside from it to pursue mathematical studies, in which he gained a high reputation." [4]

Roger of Chester (fl. 1339), is "almost beyond doubt the same person with Ranulf Higden, the chronicler, like whom he is described as a monk of St. Werburg's at Chester." [4]

The Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire listed Richard de Cestre there in 1200 and John, William de Chester was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Warwickshire in 1332. A few years later, John Chestre was listed in the Feet of Fines for 1366-1367. [5]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed Petrus de Cestre in Yorkshire and William de Cestre in Bedfordshire. Kirby's Quest listed William de Chestere, Somerset, 1 Edward III (during the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [6]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Elisabet de Chester and Cristiana de Chester as holding lands there at that time. [7]

Chesterman is a nickname as "the one who hailed from Chester. This surname is well known in the States. Adam Chesterman 'imbarqued in the Mathew of London' for St. Christophers, 1635. He was nineteen years old. Probably the present Chestermans are his descendants." [7]

Early History of the Chester family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Chester research. Another 174 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1561, 1623, 1509, 1595, 1513, 1521, 1545, 1536, 1563, 1566, 1640 and 1430 are included under the topic Early Chester History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Chester Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Chester are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Chester include: Chester, Chestere, Chesters, Cheaster, Chister, Chestare and many more.

Early Notables of the Chester family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Sir William Chester (1509?-1595?), Lord Mayor and merchant of London, second son of John Chester, citizen and draper of London. "His father died in 1513, and two years afterwards his mother took for her third husband Sir John Milborne, who was lord mayor in 1521, and under whose care young Chester was brought up. Lady Milborne survived to 1545, outliving her husband, who died in...
Another 71 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Chester Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Chester Ranking

In the United States, the name Chester is the 2,151st most popular surname with an estimated 14,922 people with that name. [8]

United States Chester migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Chester or a variant listed above:

Chester Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Leonard Chester, who landed in New England in 1633 [9]
  • Leonard Chester, who settled in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635; two of his descendants were Colonel John Chester and his son The Honourable John Chester
  • Phillip Chester, who arrived in Virginia in 1656 [9]
  • Thomas Chester, who landed in Virginia in 1657 [9]
  • Kat Chester, who landed in Virginia in 1657 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Chester Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Simon Chester, who arrived in Ohio in 1798 [9]
Chester Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Chester, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1852 [9]
  • William Chester, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1869 [9]
  • Miss Annie Chester, (b. 1871), aged 28, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "New York" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 22nd April 1899 en route to New York, USA [10]

Canada Chester migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Chester Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Chester Sr., U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [11]
  • Private John Chester U.E. (b. 1763) born in Albany, New York, USA who settled in Augusta Township, Grenville County, Ontario c. 1784 he served in Jessup's Loyal Rangers married to Phebe Brown they had 11 children he died in 1839 in Montague Township, Grenville County, Ontario [11]

Australia Chester migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Chester Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Chester, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Thomas Chester, English convict from Devon, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on October 22nd, 1824, settling in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • Mr. Levi Chester, (b. 1809), aged 30, English ploughman who was convicted in Somerset, England for 14 years for theft, transported aboard the "Canton" on 20th September 1839, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1893 [14]
  • Richard Chester, aged 35, a carpenter, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Telegraph"

New Zealand Chester migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Chester Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Chester, (b. 1831), aged 32, Cornish farm labourer departing on 25th July 1863 aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 10th December 1863 [15]
  • Mrs. Grace Chester, (b. 1830), aged 33, Cornish settler departing on 25th July 1863 aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 10th December 1863 [15]
  • Mr. William H. Chester, (b. 1859), aged 4, Cornish settler departing on 25th July 1863 aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 10th December 1863 [15]
  • Mrs. Grace Chester, (b. 1830), aged 33, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1863 [16]
  • Mr. George Chester, (b. 1831), aged 32, British farm labourer travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1863 [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Chester (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Lemuel Chester (1821-1882), American genealogist, born at Norwich, Connecticut, on 30 April 1821, one of the founders of the Harleian Society in 1869, member of the first council of the Royal Historical Society in 1870 [17]
  • Art Chester (1899-1949), American air racer
  • Raymond Tucker Chester (b. 1948), American football tight end
  • George Randolph Chester (1869-1924), American author
  • Frank Chester (1895-1957), English first-class cricketer and notable international cricket umpire
  • James Grant Chester (b. 1989), English footballer
  • Mrs. Rebecca Emily Chester M.B.E., British Consultant Nurse and Chair for National Learning Disability Consultant Nurse Network at Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to People with Learning Disabilities [18]
  • Charlie Chester (1914-1997), British stand-up comedian
  • Sir Daniel Norman Chester CBE, British Political Scientist
  • Arthur Chester Cryan (1884-1950), American Republican politician, Express agent; Elected New Hampshire State House of Representatives from Lancaster 1938 [19]

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Leonard Horsford Chester, British Telegraphist, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [20]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Michael Chester, English Fireman from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [21]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Edward Chester, American Seaman First Class from Kansas, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [22]

The Chester Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Vincit qui patitur
Motto Translation: He conquers who endures.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  7. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  8. ^
  9. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  10. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from
  11. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  12. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Ann voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1809 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from
  13. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1824 with 9 passengers. Retrieved from
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th December 2020). Retrieved from
  15. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from
  16. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  17. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 25 Nov. 2019
  18. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018,
  19. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 2) . Retrieved from
  20. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from
  21. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from
  22. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook
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