Guest (surname)

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The surname Guest is derived from the Old English word giest, which in turn comes from the Old Norse word "gestr", both of which mean "guest" or "stranger."[1] Spelling variations may include Gest, Geste, Gueste, Ghest, Geest, Geeste, Gist, Ghost, Jest.[2] Other European counterparts to the name include the German and Dutch "Gast", Luxembourgish "Gaascht", Swedish "Gäst", Norwegian "Gjest", Serbian and Slovakian "Gost", Czech "Host", etc.


Among the various theories on last name origins, according to the book The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States of America by H.S. King & Company, 1874, "Guest" derives from a place and not from the occupational status of some ancient forebear given to chronic visiting. Other theories suggest a spiritual concept i.e. "guests on this earth", or a polite substitute for "serf". Guest, the place, was near Caen, Normandy, and the original bearers of the name are said to have taken part in the Norman Conquest of England under William I in 1066. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Benwoldus Guest. This was dated 1100 in the Old English Names Register, during the reign of King William II of England, 1087–1100. After the conquest, the family settled in Salop (now Shropshire) in middle-western England and apparently held the estate known as Lega from the De Dunstanvilles.[3] Some ancient land records show Alan De Guest granting the lands of Alric de Lega (Guest) to a monastery called Wembridge Priory in 1150. His son Thomas (a name which occurs frequently in the Guest line) is mentioned in 1180. Some of the other Guests of antiquity were Thomas' sons Walter and Leonard, referred to in 1194 and 1280; and Henry, son of Leonard, 1240. Roger de Lega, or Guest, brother of Henry, had a son Thomas who again gave lands to Wembridge Priory. In 1295 Adam Gest (another variant of the name) was assessor of the parliamentary rolls in Salop.

From this Norman race descended Bishop Edmund Guest (1518–1577) who became the Bishop of Salisbury (1571–1577) and was one of the Reformers. He was the distributor of alms on behalf of Queen Elizabeth from 1560–1572. Also of note is the eminent manufacturer Sir John Guest (1785-1852) a baronet and the elder son of Thomas Guest, part owner of the Dowlais Iron Works, who died in 1807. History records as well the names of George Guest (1771–1831), an organist and composer who lived in Shropshire; Thomas Douglas Guest (1803–1839) an historical and portrait painter and Joshua Guest of Yorkshire (1660–1747) a Lieutenant General whose regiment fought in the Irish Campaign under William III. Other examples taken from church registers: Margaret Geeste married Thomas Emberson on October 5, 1546 at St. Margarets Westminster, and Edward Guest married Joane Willson at St. Botolphs Bishopsgate, city of London on September 9, 1632.

Some Guests migrated to Ireland either as part of Henry II's (1166–1172) or any of the other various conquerors' (i.e. Oliver Cromwell's) armies or support people. Ireland had been connected with England from the time of when the Anglo-Norman barons in the 12th century invaded Ireland and set up English rule; however, effective control of the island eluded the English until almost the end of the Tudor period in the mid-sixteenth century.

Waves of Guests migrated to the New World such as Elizabeth Guest arriving in Maryland in 1637, Walter Guest in Maryland in 1640, George Guest in Virginia in 1647, Anthony Guest in Virginia in 1663, Thomas Guest in New York in 1812, and John Guest in Pennsylvania in 1840.

People with the surname[edit]

British peers
People named with other variants

See also[edit]


  1. ^ House of, Swyrich Corporation,
  2. ^ The Internet Surname Database, search for "Guest",
  3. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States of America, H.S. King & Company, 1874 - Great Britain - 484 pages,