Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country continued to develop or change leading to variants of an original spelling. The surname Guest is ancient, being one of the first recorded in England; and variant spelling forms can be seen in documents and church registers. Spelling variations of the surname may include Gest, Geste, Ghest, Geeste, Gueste, Guest, Guess, and others. Geste, old French, from the Latin gesta means deeds, accomplished actions, or heroic deeds. The French Chansons de Geste or "songs of deeds" are epic poems of the Charlemagne legends.
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, the name Guest derives from a place. Geste, the place name, is in western central France near Caen, Normandy. The original bearers of this name are said to have taken part in the Norman conquest of England under William I in 1066 and there by came to settle in England.
The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be Benwoldus Guest in the Old English Names Register dated 1100 during the reign of King William II from 1087-1100. After the conquest, the family settled in Salop (now Shropshire) in middle western England and held an estate known as Lega. Ancient land records show Alan De Guest granting the lands of Alric de Lega (Guest) to a monastery Called Wembridge Priory in 1150. Richard le Gest appears in the register of documents of the English lands of the Abbey of Bec in Middlesex in 1254. Adam Gest was assessor of parliamentary rolls in Salop (Shropshire) in 1295. Bishop Edmund Geste or Guest (1518-1577) son of Thomas Geste became Bishop of Salisbury and was one of the Reformers. Bishop Edmund Geste is my very distant cousin.
Waves of Guests migrated to the New World in the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s. My English ancestors migrated from Handsworth in the county of Stafford and Hopewode in the county of Worcester in the late 17th century and settled in Pennsylvania. George Isaac and Alice Guest and three children were my first English ancestors to set out across the Atlantic to America in about 1680. My ancestor Guest families were part of a southern migration that moved from Pennsylvania, to New York, to New Jersey, to Virginia, to N & S Carolinas, to Georgia, to Mississippi, and to Louisiana. At sometime in the mid 19th century my ancestor Morgan Guest in Copiah County Mississippi began using the name Guess which has carried forward to my generation. His tombstone reads Morgan Guest/Guess.
I knew that I had English ancestry and some German and Irish ancestry. As a result of genealogy research I have found my Spanish and French ancestry of which I knew nothing about until now. My Spanish ancestors Juan Miguez and Salvadora De Quero, and Miguel Romero and Maria Grano sailed to New Spain (New Iberia, Louisiana) in 1778. My French ancestors Joseph Derouen and Gennevieve Hebert, and Marin Prejean and Marie Benoit came to South Louisiana from Canada and Acadia in the 1700s as a result of the deportation and migration of the Acadians to the Attakapas parish in Louisiana. Marie Benoit's second marriage was to Daniel Boone, the nephew of the famous frontiersman and explorer.
I am in awe of the people who came alone or with their families on such a treacherous journey across the great Atlantic Ocean not knowing what they would find here. I am amazed to have found the soldiers, farmers, tradesmen, mariners, and the women who gave birth to so many children. They were people of all religious backgrounds, and some were seeking religious freedom. This has been such an interesting and rewarding project. I have learned so much about people and history. I didn't think at first that it would be possible, and I hope to continue to learn more. Paradoxically, genealogy research has given me a more grounded feeling in the present.
The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States of America by H.S. King & Company, 1874, page 272
A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland by John Burke, 1836, page 489
The Life and Character of Edmund Geste, S.T.P. by Henry Geast Dugdale, 1840, page13-14
South West Louisiana Records 1750-1900, compact disk, Hebert
ancestry.com and familysearch.org
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