The English, northern Irish, and French surname Best is derived from the Middle English, Old French term beste meaning “animal, or beast” (Latin bestia), applied as a metonymic occupational name for someone who looked after beasts—a herdsman. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Best, which was dated 1201, a witness at the Somerset Assize Court, Taunton. Captain Thomas Best (1570-1638) broke the power of Portugal in the East in 1612. He was later Master of Trinity House, whilst W.D. Best (1767-1845) was the Lord Chief Justice and the first Baron Wynford. As a point of social history, Thomas Best was 'convicted' as a Monmouth rebel by 'Bloody Judge Jefferies' in 1685, and sentenced to ten years hard labour in Barbadoes. A notable bearer of the name was the soccer legend George Best from northern Ireland.
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