Lester History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Of all the Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain, Lester is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived in Leicester, in Leicestershire. Leicester is the capital of the county and its name is derived from the Old English element ceaster, which meant "Roman town." [1]

Early Origins of the Lester family

The surname Lester was first found in Cheshire at Leycester, more commonly known as Leicester, a city now in the unitary authority area in the East Midlands. The first record of the place name was found in the early 10th century as "Ligera ceater" but by the Domesday Book of 1086 the place name had evolved to Ledecestre. [2]

Literally the place name means "Roman town of the people called Ligore," having derived from the Tribal name + the Old English word "ceater." [1] As far as the surname is concerned, the family are "descended from Sir Nicholas Leycester, who acquired the manor of Nether-Tabley in marriage, and died in 1295." [3]

But another source notes that Hugo de Legrecestra was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire in 1130, followed by Nicholas de Leycester who was listed in the Assize Rolls for Cheshire in 1287. [4]

And another source notes that the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list what is probably the first instance of the name as Robert de Lestre. [5]

Yorkshire was home to an early branch of the family: Richard de Laycestre in 1305; Henry Lycester in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls in 1381; William Leycetter in 1480; and Henry Lasisture in 1503. [4]

Early History of the Lester family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lester research. Another 133 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1586, 1604, 1605, 1620, 1614, 1678, 1588, 1647, 1642, 1678, 1643, 1684, 1674, 1742, 1715, 1727, 1705, 1706, 1762, 1827, 1762, 1732 and 1770 are included under the topic Early Lester History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lester Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Lester has been spelled many different ways, including Leycester, Leicester, Leister, Lester and others.

Early Notables of the Lester family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Sir Peter Leycester (Leicester), 1st Baronet (1614-1678), an English antiquarian and historian, supporter of the Royalist side in the Civil War. He was born at Nether Tabley, near Knutsford, Cheshire, England, the eldest son of Peter Leycester (1588-1647) and Elizabeth Mainwaring. In 1642 he married Elizabeth Gerard, the third daughter of Gilbert, 2nd Baron Gerard. They had three sons and three daughters. He died at his home in 1678 and was buried at Great Budworth, Cheshire. He was succeeded in the baronetage by...
Another 90 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Lester Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Lester family to Ireland

Some of the Lester family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Lester migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Lesters to arrive in North America:

Lester Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Lester, who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 [6]
  • James Lester, who settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Andrew Lester, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1641 [6]
  • Ralph Lester, who settled in Virginia in 1643
  • Ralph Lester, who arrived in Virginia in 1643 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lester Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Richard Lester, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [6]
  • William Lester, who landed in Virginia in 1711 [6]
  • George Lester, who settled in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1767
  • Francis Lester, aged 18, who arrived in Maryland in 1774 [6]
Lester Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Anne Lester, who landed in New York, NY in 1815 [6]
  • Richard Albert Lester, who landed in Schuyler County, Illinois in 1848 [6]
  • N Lester, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [6]
  • P Lester, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [6]
  • E Lester, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Lester migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Lester Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Lester, who landed in Quebec in 1784
  • Ms. Mary Lester U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]
  • Mr. Mordecai Lester U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]
  • Ms. Sarah Lester U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]
  • Mr. Thomas Lester U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lester Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Lester, who landed in Canada in 1832

Australia Lester migration to Australia +

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

Lester Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Joseph Lester, British Convict who was convicted in Worcester, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 20th July 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Caroline Lester, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Seppings" in 1839 [9]
  • Emily Lester, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Seppings" in 1839 [9]
  • Henry Lester, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Simlah" in 1849 [10]
  • John Lester, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Amity Hall" in 1850 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Lester 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:

Lester Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • W B Lester, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1841
  • Mr Lester, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1844
  • Annie Lester, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Anne Dymes" in 1864
  • Mr. Thomas Lester, (b. 1848), aged 26, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Peter Denny" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 26th July 1874 [12]
  • Mr. William Lester, (b. 1852), aged 22, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Peter Denny" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 26th July 1874 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Lester (post 1700) +

  • E. Roy Lester (1923-2020), American college and high school head coach of Richard Montgomery High School, inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame in 2008
  • Thomas William "Tom" Lester (1938-2020), American actor and evangelist, best known for his role as the farmhand Eb Dawson on the television show Green Acres
  • Julius Lester (1939-2018), American writer of books for children and adults
  • Ron Lester (1970-2016), American actor
  • Mary Louise Lester (b. 1921), All-American Girls Professional Baseball League infielder who played from 1943 to 1944; she is part of the Women in Baseball exhibition at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York
  • Mark L. Lester (b. 1946), American award winning writer, producer, and director, known for Commando (1985), Firestarter (1984) and Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)
  • John Ashby Lester (1871-1969), American First-class cricketer
  • Albert Lester (1803-1867), American lawyer and politician, Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1847
  • Sonny Lester (b. 1924), American Grammy-award winning music producer from New York City, recipient of the Purple Heart
  • Richard Lester (b. 1932), British-based two-time BAFTA nominated film director famous for his work with The Beatles and the Superman film series in the 1980s
  • ... (Another 15 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • Robert Lester (1922-1939), British Boy 1st Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [13]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. James Lester (d. 1912), aged 39, English Third Class passenger from West Bromwich, Staffordshire who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [14]


The Lester 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: Pro rege et patria
Motto Translation: For King and country.


Suggested Readings for the name Lester +

  • 683 Lester, Neal, and Allied Families by Shirley Wimpey Ward.

  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th February 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1837
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) SEPPINGS 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Seppings.htm
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SIMLAH 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Simlah.htm
  11. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) AMITY HALL 1850. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850AmityHall.gif
  12. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  13. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  14. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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