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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, German

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

The origins of the Lister surname lie with the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name Lister began when someone in that family worked as a "litster" or dyer, a trade-name for a person who dyed clothes and other fabrics. This surname is derived from the Old English words lite and litte, which both mean to dye.


One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Lister has appeared include Lister, Litster, Lidster and others.

First found in Yorkshire where today it is one of the most populous surname in that shire. Early records show "Lystare, clothe dyynge (or lytaster of clothe dyynge."


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lister research. Another 243 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1296, 1555, 1638, 1712, 1791, 1840, 1597, 1668, 1639, 1712, 1658, 1718, 1705, 1707, 1707 and 1715 are included under the topic Early Lister History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 191 words(14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Lister Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Lister arrived in North America very early:

Lister Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Edward Lister, who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620
  • Thomas Lister, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Rich Lister, who landed in Virginia in 1664
  • Edmond Lister, who arrived in Maryland or Virginia in 1670
  • Thomas Lister, who landed in Maryland in 1672

Lister Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Richard Lister, who arrived in Virginia in 1717
  • William Lister, who landed in Virginia in 1743

Lister Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • George Lister, aged 25, landed in New York, NY in 1803
  • Elizabeth Lister arrived in New York State in 1811
  • Eliza Lister, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • Samuel Lister, who landed in New York, NY in 1829
  • John Lister, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844

Lister Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Alexander Kirkaldy Lister, aged 25, a blacksmith, arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "Utopia"

Lister Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • John Lister, aged 31, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • Mary Ann Lister, aged 27, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • Thomas Lister, aged 1, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • William Lister arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "New Era" in 1855
  • Eliza Lister arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "New Era" in 1855


  • Laurier Lister (1907-1986), American theatre producer, director, and performer
  • Ernest Lister (1870-1919), English-born, American politician, Governor of Washington (1913-1919)
  • Tommy "Tiny" Lister (b. 1958), American character actor and former wrestler
  • Thomas Mosie Lister (1921-2015), American singer and Baptist minister
  • Joseph Lister (1887-1963), English soldier, recipient of the the Victoria Cross for deeds at the Third Battle of Ypres, Belgium on October 9, 1917, World War I
  • Samuel Cunliffe Lister (1815-1906), English inventor
  • Thomas Henry Lister (1800-1842), English novelist and Registrar General
  • Stephen "Steve" Haley Lister (b. 1961), English footballer
  • Thomas Lister (1752-1826), British MP for Clitheroe, created 1st Baron Ribblesdale in 1797
  • Joseph Lister (1827-1912), 1st Baron Lister, British surgeon who demonstrated in 1865 that carbolic acid was an effective antiseptic agent, creator of the brand name Listerine



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: Retinens vestigia famae
Motto Translation: Still treading the footsteps of an honourable ancestry.


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  1. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  2. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  3. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  6. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  7. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  8. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  10. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  11. ...

The Lister Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Lister 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 13 February 2015 at 11:02.

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