Forrests History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The Forrests 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, Forrests would have appeared independently in various parts of Britain.
One source claims the name as Norman, descended from Forez, Normandy. There Guerard and Nicholas de Foresta of Normandy were found in 1198 (Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae). The source continues to note that William Forist held lands in Hampshire in the Domesday Book of 1086.  
Early Origins of the Forrests family
The surname Forrests was 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.  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." 
Early History of the Forrests family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Forrests research. Another 105 words (8 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 Forrests History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Forrests Spelling Variations
The name, Forrests, occurred in many references, and from time to time, it was spelt Forrester, Forester, Forrest, Forster, Foster, Forrestor and many more.
Early Notables of the Forrests family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the family name during their early history was John Forrest (1471-1538), English friar and martyr; Francis Forester (b. 1623) was High Sheriff of Shropshire in 1652; Sir William Forester (1655-1718), of Dothill in Wellington, Shropshire, Member of Parliament for the borough constituency of Wenlock (1679 to his death)...
Migration of the Forrests family to Ireland
Some of the Forrests family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Migration of the Forrests family
The New World beckoned settlers from the Scottish-English borders. They sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. Some called them, less romantically, the "coffin ships." Among the early settlers bearing the Forrests surname who came to North America were: James Forest, who settled in Virginia in 1654; George Forest settled in Virginia in 1608, 12 years before the "Mayflower"; Toby Forrester settled in Virginia in 1655.