Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Lancaster Name
Origins of Name:
The Lancaster surname has an Anglo-Saxon origin, and ties to a Northwestern English city named Lancashire. Alternate spellings can be found in the Domesday Book of 1086, (which is a recorded manuscript known as the “Great Survey” of England and Wales in 1086 by King William the Conqueror). These spellings include one version of Loncastre, and another version of the name known as Lanecastrum, which was also found in the 1094 Pipe Rolls of Lancashire. The name itself is derived from “Lune” which is the river near the city of Lancashire, and “ceaster” which means a Roman fort or walled city. Thus, the name has a literal translation to mean “river fort.” The name Lancaster is derived from original inhabitants of a city. The city of Lancashire, and in their migration, was changed in both spelling and pronunciation.
More common variations are:
Lanecastrum, Lancastre, Lancastera, Lancqaster, Lanecaster, Lawncaster, Lancasster, Longcastre, Lancaster, Lanacaster, Lancasterr, Longcaster, Lankester
The earliest record of the surname Lancaster was in the late 12th century. The late Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, who was later in life named “King of Sicily”, named this by the pope in 1255 (this title was later renounced in 1263) was recorded in this era. It was not until seventy-two years later in 1327, that John de Lancaster’s name appeared in the Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire. Throughout the ages, the Lancaster name has taken various spellings based on geographical location, and the literacy of those recording the name. In these times, names were recorded as they sounded to the person recording, thus having different spellings across the map. For example, the surname Lancaster has gone through many different spellings according to location. In Essex in 1327, this surname was spelled Lancastre, while in Yorkshire in 1494, it was spelled Longcaster, and in Suffolk in 1565 this surname was spelled Lankester.
The name emerged in the United States in 1635, when twenty-eight-year-old Gowen Lancaster boarded the “Transport” to the state of Virginia, becoming the first recorded Lancaster to make such a trip. It is believed that Lancaster was a commonly used name, and can be traced all the way back to William son of Gilbert (who later became the Barony of Kendal) and that families who currently use the name Lancaster are descended from this line. The name Lancaster is also associated with the Lancasterian system of Education, which was founded by Joesph Lancaster. He opened a Free School in 1801 for one thousand boys. It is important to note that surnames were often chosen or given when governments imposed the English Poll tax. Those named Lancaster most likely came from the city of Lancashire, but also may have adopted the name at a later time due to the English Poll Tax, which required personal taxation, and required citizens to use a surname.
United States 38,105
New Zealand 817
Gowen Lancaster (born in 1607) who was the first Lancaster to make it stateside in 1635, by boarding the “Transport” from Britain to Virgina
Burton Stephen “Burt” Lancaster (1913-1994) was an American actor who became known as one of the greatest actors of his generation
Penny-Lancaster-Stewart (born in 1971) The wife of rock artist Rod Stewart, who is also a model and photographer in England
Sir Osbert Lancaster (1908-1986) Author, art critic, stage designer, and cartoonist in England
Mary Lancaster (1907-1988) Scottish woman who was aboard the Pan Am Flight 103, from Frankfurt to Detroit, (also known as the Lockerbie Bombing) and died during this bombing in 1988
Miss Dorothy Lancaster (died in 1915) Second class passenger aboard the RMS Lusitania, originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, who died in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania
Miss Annie Lancaster (died in 1915) Second class passenger aboard the RMS Lusitania, originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, who died in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania
Mr. Francis William Lancaster (died in 1915) Second class passenger aboard the RMS Lusitania, originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, who died in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, and his body was later recovered
Mr. Edward Lancaster, who was a British Ordinance Lieutenant aboard the HMS Prince of Wales during battle, and survived the sinking of the HMS Prince of Wales
Miss Theresa Lancaster (1908-1917) Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, died in the Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917
Mr. Thomas Lancaster (died 1917) Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, died in the Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917
Lancaster Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Lancaster blazon are the lion passant, mullet, fleur-de-lis and label. The three main tinctures (colors) are argent, or and gules .
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) . In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper .
Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” . Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun . In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ .
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries . Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone..
There can be no animal more clearly associated with Heraldry than the lion, majestic King of the Beasts. Originally it appeared only in one pose, erect, on one paw, with the others raised but such was the popularity of this figure, and the need to distinguish arms from each other, that it soon came to be shown in an enormous range of forms . The lion passant is an example of these modified form, showing the creature on all fours, as if walking proudly. In common with all reprensentations of the lion it can be taken to be an “emblem of deathless courage”.
The heraldic mullet, not to be confused with the fish of that name, is shown as a regular, five pointed star. This was originally, not an astronomical object, but represented the spur on a horseman’s boot, especially when peirced, with a small circular hole in the centre it represents a type of spur known as a “rowel” . A clear example can be found in the arms of Harpendene, argent, a mullet pierced gules. The ancient writer Guillim associated such spurs in gold as belonging to the Knight, and the silver to their esquires . In later years, Wade linked this five pointed star with the true celestial object, the estoile and termed it a “falling star”, symbolising a “divine quality bestowed from above” .
The fleur-de-lys (“flower of the lily”) has a long and noble history and was a symbol associated with the royalty of France even before heraldry became widespread. . The Lily flower is said to represent “Purity, or whiteness of soul” and sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. The fleur-de-lys is also used as a small “badge”, known as a mark of cadency to show that the holder is the sixth son of the present holder of the arms