The English surname Lister is an occupational name for a dyer, from the Middle English term litster, an derivative of lit(t)e(n) ‘to dye’ (Old Norse lita). This term was used principally in East Anglia and northern and eastern England (areas of Scandinavian settlement), and to this day the surname is found principally in these regions, especially in Yorkshire. The first recorded reference to the name is in 1286 when Ralph Litster is registered in the Court Rolls of the manor of Wakefield, Yorkshire. The name has been in the US since the early 17th Century when immigration records record Thomas Lister sailed from London for the New World colony of Virgina, on the ship "Paula" in July 1635.
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