East Surname Miscellany, History & Origin

Select East Meaning
The four points
of the compass transposed in England into
surnames. Of these, East was the third most popular. East
and Este were early name
variations. Este is also the name of a long-established European dynastic
from Italy.

East Resources on

East Ancestry

The first East surname, like the first West surname, was recorded in
the county of Essex. And Easts, just like Wests, were fairly
numerous in Lincolnshire. William Este was a master mason from
Abingdon, Oxfordshire around the year 1500 and the East name was
conspicuous in
and Buckinghamshire, as well as in London.

Thomas East was a prominent music publisher in London during
Elizabethan times, the subject of Jeremy Smith’s book Thomas East and Music Publishing in
Renaissance England
; and his nephew Michael a well-known
organist and composer of his day. William East, a London lawyer,
built Hall Place near Maidenhead in 1735 which the family held for the
next hundred years.

America. Thomas East was
living in
Henrico county, Virginia in the 1670’s and possibly earlier. His descendants were to be found by the 1740’s
in Pittsylvania county in southern Virginia and they later spread
the South. There were many James among these
Easts, including James
East, one of the early settlers in Illinois

Caribbean. Captain John
East was active in the conquest of Jamaica in the 1660’s and obtained
an estate there. A descendant Edward Hyde East, born in
served as a judge in India in the early 1800’s and was created a


East Miscellany

East, West, North and South.  The four points of the compass transposed in England into surnames.
Of these,
East was the third most popular.  The numbers in England today are:

in England Numbers (000’s) Share (%)
West    57   66
North    14    16
East    10    12
South     5     6

The House of Este.  The origins of the family, probably of Frankish nobility, date back to the time of
Charlemagne in the early 9th century when they settled in Lombardy.  Their name came from the castle they built at
Este near Padua in the early 11th century.

family split into two branches.
The elder is known as the house of Welf-Easte or Guelf-Easte.  They included the dukes of Brunswick and
Luneburg in Germany and produced England’s Hanoverian monarchy.  The younger, known as the house of Fulc-Este
or later simply as the house of Este, remained based in Italy.  They included rulers of Ferrara, Modena and

Estes and Easts in Oxfordshire.  William Este, a freemason
of Oxford, was recorded in 1494 as being engaged on works at Woodstock
Hall.  He was shown in Abingdon in
1505 as a master mason.  One East family
line in Canada dates back to John and Elizabeth East who lived in
Somerton in
the late 16th century.  Easts in Wolverton
go back to 1726. Catherine East was born in Souldern in 1771.
Giles East and
Esther Stowe were married in Chadlington in 1774.

Sir Edward Hyde East.  Edward East, who was the great grandson of Captain John East prominent in the
conquest of Jamaica, was born on that island in 1764, the son of Edward
and Amy
East.  He moved as a young man to London
where he became a a lawyer and MP and then was appointed a judge in

performing his judicial duties there,
he interested himself in the cause of native education, and was the
promoter of the Hindu College.  When he
retired from office in 1822 the Indians presented him with an address
subscribed for a statue of him. This, executed by Francis Chantney, was
afterwards placed in the grand jury room of the Supreme Court in

James East, An Early Settler in Illinois.  James had
gone south with his father from Virginia to Georgia in 1790.  He stayed there a while but then moved west
with his wife Polly and some of her family into Tennessee after the
death of James
Sr. in 1811. Five years later, James
pioneered in Madison county, Illinois, being one of the first white
there.  He
erected a pole cabin and planted two acres of corn on the edge of the
with a spade, before returning to Tennessee to fetch his wife and

From an early history of Madison county,
James was described as “a man of industrious habits who accumulated a
deal of property, 640 acres, raised a large family of children, eight
sons and
two daughters, and died in Madison county in 1833 and was buried

Alfred East from Kettering.  Kettering in Northamptonshire was known for its shoemakers and one of the most
of these shoemakers in the early 19th century was the East family.  In 1844 Alfred East was born into this
family, the youngest of a family of eleven children.

Alfred drew and painted from an early age and
this was continued when he was old enough to go to the Grammar School.  However, neither his school nor his family
gave him any particular encouragement.  Despite
being totally obsessive about his art, his parents sent him to work at
a shoe
factory in Kettering owned by his brother Charles (which was quite a
large establishment employing more than a hundred workers).

being sent to Glasgow as the firm’s representative there, he attended
art classes and decided to make art his career. Accordingly Alfred
enrolled at
Glasgow School of Art and later went to study in France. He returned to
around about 1883 and established studios in both London and Cornwall.

His work captured the particular qualities of
the English landscape and reflected the mood in England during the
period.  He became famous and honors were
showered upon him from all over the world.



East Names

  • Thomas East was a prominent music publisher in London during Elizabethan times.
  • Sir Alfred East was a popular English painter of his day.
    He died in 1913.

Select East Numbers Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Dorset)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select East and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) and surrounding areas in eastern England.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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