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Origins of the Foster surname

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What does the name Foster mean?

The Foster surname is predominantly English, where it has been recorded in use from the 1100s onwards. Foster derives as an occupational surname from a number of sources. Firstly it comes from a 'forester', the name for a forest warden or gamekeeper. Secondly the surname Foster is believed to derive from the Old English 'Forseter' (shearer), given to those who shear sheep and their descendants. Most rarely Foster has been hypothesised to relate to a 'fosterer', someone who feeds and looks after children in place of their parents.

Alternative variations of the name Foster

Foster, Forster, Forrester, Forester, Fostar

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Where do most Fosters live?

In 1921, most Fosters lived in London.

Census records trace your ancestors through each generation, so you can follow where your relatives lived through each decade.

Interesting facts about Fosters

How common is your surname?

68th most common surname in the UK

We have 412,000 records for the Foster surname. The oldest one dates back to .

Who were Fosters most likely to marry?




Our Marriage record sets tell us which families married Fosters.

What are the most common Foster first names?

  • John
  • William
  • Mary
  • Elizabeth

Our birth record sets tell us the names of Foster family members

Common jobs for Fosters

Men and women often performed different types of jobs, so these are displayed by gender to maintain their historical accuracy.

Common Female occupations for Fosters in 1921


Domestic Servant


General Servant Domestic




Living On Own Means


Common Male occupations for Fosters in 1921
Coal Miner


Agricultural Labourer


General Labourer




Farm Labourer


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