The family lineage commences with a certain Knight who arrived in England at the time of William the Conqueror as part of the ‘invading’ forces.
This Banister was actually Robert Banastre the French Knight.
You will note the French spelling of the name at that time lasted for several centuries until, after the period of influence of the self appointed French nobility to our English courts. French names were then often ‘obscured due to their unpopular routes and Banastre became written as Banester. No doubt a French sounding name was not compatible with being a ‘loyalist’, it sounds almost the same, and the ‘French Connection’ was at least ‘visibly’ broken. Latterly as more people became able to ‘write’ the spelling of the name moved another step and became Banister, where it has stayed to this day. The change in the evolution of the spelling might also have been influenced by local dialectic changes and the ‘phonetic-ear’ of those who were able to write and were in commercial, clerical or legal roles requiring events and activities to be recorded.
However the time-line of spelling of the name was approx:
- Mid 1000s Banastre
- Mid 1500s Banestra / Banester
- Early 1600’s Banister
The lineage of the Banister is demonstrated by the ownership of the Manor of Finchampstead (first owned by Sir William Banastre in 1275) and other estates and properties which have been passed down through the generations over the many centuries.
It commenced with the original Manor, as described in the Doomsday Book, which was then held by King Harold.
Between 1100 and 1118, it was held by Sir Alard Banastre and his direct descendents through to 1290 when it was divided into two, East Court and West Court.
- The East Court Moiety of the Manor went to John de la Hoese who married Constance Banastra (daughter of Sir William Banastre) and ownership descended through various families to the family of John Walter of Bearwood.
- The West Court Manor went to Peter de la Hoese who married Agatha ( the second daughter of Sir William) and ownership descended through various families to the St John family.
- There were many Banastre’s in the Finchampstead, Sulhamstead, Eversley, and other locales who were in various trades and professions; County Sheriffs, Magistrates, Gentleman Farmers and working Farmers, Property owners, etc.
- ‘Banister House’ was built and became a significant residence in the area where Banisters have lived in and within the surrounding neighbourhood since 1275 to the late 1800s.
During those years various parts of the wider Banisters family became progressively more mobile and travelled more widely and there are records of Banisters;
- Migrating to America to start-up a business enterprises (in manufacture of shoes, farming, etc),
- In the 1750s one became a Captain and finished up in Newport Rhode Island where he made his mark.
The area of ' Banister Wharf’ still exists today in Newport Harbour and there is a also a Banister Mansion, which today is a Hotel of the same name.
- A priest, Father Banister, who wrote much ‘poetry’, jumped from Anglicanism to the Roman Catholic faith in 1872.
- 1630s – one became a Composer & Violinist and was latterly Director of Royal ‘24-Violins’ remained in Royal Service until 1679. Composed many Madrigal pieces, still available today on CD. He had a son who also followed in his footsteps as a violinist and composer.
- A second generation Banister, born in Virginia in 1734, attended a private school in Wakefield, England, graduated in law from the Temple in London and returned to Virginia where he started a Law Practice and became a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses in mid late 1700s.
- In mid late 1600s an English born Banister, a Clergyman and botanist, spent many years in the West Indies, immigrated to America, where he devoted himself to botanical pursuits and contributed to many learned books.
- The son of the above Banister who was born in Virginia and received a classical education back in England, became a soldier, is recorded as having died near Hatchet's Run, Dinwiddie County, in 1787 during the revolutionary war. He became a colonel in the Virginia line actively repelling the British from Virginia. He latterly became member of the state assembly.