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

Origins Available: English, German


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.

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The surname Lister was 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." "The pedigree is traced to the sixth of Edward II., when John de Lister was resident of Derby. The elder line was of Mydhope, or Middop." [1] He later transferred himself to Yorkshire on his marriage with the daughter and heiress of John de Bolton [2] Gisburn in the West Riding of Yorkshire "was for many generations the seat of the family of Lister, whose descendant, Lord Ribblesdale, is lord of the manor. Gisburn Park is a noble mansion, containing a valuable collection of paintings; the park is extensive, and approached by a handsome lodge. The Lister family are interred in a vault in the church." [3]

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.


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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, 1534, 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.

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Another 207 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Lister Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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 Canada in the 18th Century


  • Lieut. Benjamin Lister U.E. who settled in Saint Johns, New Brunswick c. 1784 he served in DeLancey's 2nd Battalion
  • Capt. Thomas Lister U.E. who settled in New Brunswick c. 1784 he served in DeLancey's 3rd Battalion

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


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  • Ernest Lister (1870-1919), American Democrat politician, Real estate and insurance business; Candidate for U.S. Representative from Washington 2nd District, 1909; Governor of Washington, 1913-19
  • Thomas Mosie Lister (1921-2015), American singer and Baptist minister
  • Tommy "Tiny" Lister (b. 1958), American character actor and former wrestler
  • Edwin Lister, American politician, Member of New Jersey State House of Assembly from Essex County, 1886
  • Edna Lister, American politician, Candidate for Secretary of State of Washington, 1948
  • Edgar Lister, American Republican politician, Presidential Elector for Montana, 1972
  • B. M. Lister, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives 50th District, 1919-20
  • Arthur J. Lister, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives 98th District, 1970
  • Amos H. Lister (b. 1881), American Republican politician, First selectman of Plymouth, Connecticut, 1919-20; Member of Connecticut State Senate 32nd District, 1945-46
  • Mrs. Ernest Lister, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Washington, 1920

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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. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  2. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  3. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  4. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  5. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  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. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  8. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  10. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  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 19 April 2016 at 11:00.

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