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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, French

Where did the English Forest family come from? What is the English Forest family crest and coat of arms? When did the Forest family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Forest family history?

The Forest surname was no doubt taken on by someone who either lived in or near a forest, or perhaps worked in the forest. The Middle English word "forest" referred specifically to an area of woodland reserved by law as hunting grounds for the king or his nobles. No doubt, as a surname, Forest would have appeared independently in various parts of Britain.


During the era when a person's name, tribe and posterity was one of his most important possessions, many different spellings were found in the archives examined. Forest occurred in many references, and spelling variations of the name found included Forrester, Forester, Forrest, Forster, Foster, Forrestor and many more.

First found in Northumberland, but early records include John Forester, listed in the Pipe Rolls of Surrey of 1183, and Richard le Forester listed in the Feet of Fines of Essex in 1240. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 include: Petrus Forestarius, Jordan le Forester; and Nicholas le Forester. [1] There was also a Shropshire family of this name, who held custody of part of the Wrekin forest. An early record of this family lists a Hugh Forester as a witness 1187. As a trade name, the family were traditional "officers made by letters patent under the great seal, and sworn to preserve vert and venison in the forest; and to attend upon the wild beasts within his bailiwick; to attach offenders there either in Vert or Venison, and to preserve the same at the courts of the Forest." [2]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Forest research. Another 209 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1379, 1471, 1538, 1623, 1652, 1655, 1718, 1679, 1690, 1758, 1767, 1828 and 1698 are included under the topic Early Forest History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 177 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Forest Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Forest family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Gradually becoming disenchanted with life in Ireland many of these uprooted families sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships often arrived with only 60 to 70% of their original passenger list, many dying of illness and the elements, were buried at sea. In North America, early immigrants bearing the family name Forest, or a spelling variation of the surname include:

Forest Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • George Forest settled in Virginia in 1607
  • George Forest, who landed in Jamestown Va in 1607
  • George Forest settled in Virginia in 1608
  • George Forest, who settled in Virginia in 1608
  • Daniel Forest settled in Virginia in 1651

Forest Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Jean Baptiste Forest, who arrived in South Carolina in 1755
  • Paul Forest, who landed in South Carolina in 1755
  • Anthony Forest, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1758
  • Benoist Forest, who arrived in Connecticut in 1763
  • Marie Forest settled in Maryland in 1763

Forest Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Robert Forest, who landed in New York in 1813
  • John Forest, who landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • Lemuel De Forest, aged 30, settled in New York in 1820
  • Joseph Forest, who arrived in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1848
  • J Forest, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850

Forest Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Jean Forest, aged 37, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Henry Forest, aged 23, a saddler, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Maria Forest, aged 27, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856


  • Abel De Forest, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Otsego County, 1809-10, 1812-14
  • Herbert Léon Forest, American Government Official
  • Lee De Forest (1873-1961), American inventor with over 180 patents to his credit including the vacuum tube
  • Frank Forest (1896-1976), American opera singer
  • Jean-Marie Forest, French Brigadier General during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars from 1789 to 1815
  • Mr. McAdam Carruthers De Forest (1922-1941), Australian Stoker from East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II on the 19th November 1941 and died during the sinking
  • Joseph Léon Bertrand Forest, Canadian Government Official, Quebec
  • Jean-Claude Forest (1930-1998), French comic book author and creator of Barbarella


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  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  5. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  6. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  7. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  8. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  9. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  10. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  11. ...

The Forest Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Forest Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 11 November 2015 at 10:56.

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