Show ContentsExter History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Exter is a name of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from the family once having lived in Exeter, a town in Devon. The town of Exeter has been around for a very long time; it was first listed in Roman records as Iska c. 150. Documents dated around AD 900 call it Exanceaster. In the Domesday Book (1086), it was called Execestre. The place-name is derived from the Celtic word exe, which means water, and the Old English word ceaster, which meant Roman fort. The Romans first invaded the British Isles in AD 44, landing at Thanet and soon subduing all of the English tribes. They remained in control for two or three centuries, leaving an indelible mark upon the face of England. Town names like Bath are directly attributable to the period of Roman occupation, and it was uncommon but not rare for someone to stumble over remains of the Roman occupation in medieval England.

Early Origins of the Exter family

The surname Exter was first found in Devon, at the historic city of Exeter, the home of Rougemont Castle who many believe was ordered to be built by William the Conqueror after the city led a revolt of his authority in 1068. After 18 days of siege, this city finally surrendered and sore an oath not to harm the city or increase its ancient tribute.

Joseph of Exeter in Latin Joseph Iscanus (fl. 1190), "was a mediæval Latin poet, was, as he tells us himself, a native of Exeter, being the fellow-townsman and lifelong friend of Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury." [1]

Stephen of Exeter (fl. 1265), is the supposed author of the ‘Annales Domus Montis Fernandi ab anno XLV usque ad annum MCCLXXIV.’ " which is contained in a manuscript in the archiepiscopal library at Armagh. He was apparently born in 1246, and entered the Franciscan order at Multyfarnham, Westmeath, in 1263. Other accounts connect him with Strade in Mayo, where there was a house of the Franciscan order, which Jordan of Exeter, lord of Athlethan, or his son Stephen gave to the Dominicans in 1252." [1] And Walter of Exeter (fl. 1301), was a Cluniac monk, and a citizen of Exeter.

Early History of the Exter family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Exter research. Another 53 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 119 and 1190 are included under the topic Early Exter History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Exter Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Exter family name include Hexter, Hexeter, Exeter, Exter and others.

Early Notables of the Exter family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Exter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Exter migration to the United States +

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Exter surname or a spelling variation of the name include:

Exter Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Fred Exter, who settled in Illinois in 1852

  1. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print on Facebook