Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,745 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

4,644 total views, 3 views today




About the study

I began researching my ISTED family tree and history about 1977. This was mainly because I was often asked at school, '€˜ISTED - what an unusual name, where does that come from?'€™ My parents and grandparents could not tell me much, only that my great-grandfather Spencer ISTED (1867-1932) emigrated to New Zealand in 1910 from Hailsham in the English county of East Sussex. So I vowed to myself that I would do more research on my ISTEDs.

Initially I was only interested in my branch of the ISTED family which had connections to the East Sussex parishes of: Mayfield, Framfield, Hastings, Warbleton, Wartling, Herstmonceux and Hailsham. I have traced and proven my ISTED line back eight generations to my 6x great-grandfather Thomas ISTED (c1653-1744), Gent of Trumpets Farm, Warbleton, Sussex. Then a probable line can be traced back another six generations to my 12x great-grandfather, Laurence ISTED(E) of Framfield (born mid-1400s died pre-1486).

While researching my ISTED ancestors and several descendant lines, I came across many other non-related ISTEDs from other places outside of East Sussex such as: West Sussex, Surrey, Kent, London, Middlesex, Essex and other parts of the world. After collecting so much ISTED data over 16 years, I decided it was time to register with the GOONS in August 1993.

Variant names

My main study is on the surname ISTED, but I am also interested in the eight common variants: ISTEAD, ISTEED, HIGHSTEAD, HIGHSTEAD, HISTEAD, HISTED, HYSTEAD, HYSTEAD. Less common variants (possible deviants) are: ISTEDE, HEISTED, HIESTED, EASTED, ESTEAD, EASTEAD, EYSTED, EISTED, YSTED(E).

Name origin

The family name ISTED is a 'locative' name (either Topographical or Toponymic) of Anglo-Saxon/Nordic/Germanic origin derived from a place bearing the same or a similar phonetic name. There are, however, a number of reasonable competing theories regarding the whereabouts of the place, and the meaning of its name, from which the ISTED family name is derived. In summary these are:

  • The ISTED family name originated in Mayfield, county of Sussex or the surrounding High Weald, from the name of the place where the family once lived.
  • The ISTED family name originated from Isteda/Histede/Isted/Istead in county of Suffolk with the family moving to Mayfield, Sussex prior to 1285.
  • The ISTED family name originated in Scandinavia with the family moving to Mayfield, Sussex prior to 1285. There are two places where the ISTED name may have come from: i) A place named Idstedt once ruled by Denmark (pre-1918) but now Germany. ii) A place named Ystad in Southern Sweden.

In my research I have come across several meanings for the ISTED name from various sources, but the following one I feel is the most accurate - '€˜I sted or I stad'€™ means in ancient Low German as well as in Old Danish '€˜diese Stätte'€™ = '€˜this place / this location'€™ or '€˜hier ist die Stätte'€™ -€“ '€˜here is the place'€™, a place where yew trees grow. (Source: Schleswig-Holstein Archives)

Pronunciation of the ISTED name

ISTED assuming that the name was the medieval form, was probably pronounced {i: `sted} - latter part stressed. Then national shifts in pronunciation would have moved the stress from the latter to the former syllable to give {`I: sted} and {`ie: staed} and/or then may have given {ai: `sted} and much later on possibly more slight changes. From the 20th century the ISTED name appears to be more commonly pronounced with a long '€˜I'€™ as in Eye-sted, rather than Iss-ted or Iss-tid or even Ice-sted. Also the name seems to vary greatly in spoken form (especially in England) as there are many different dialects there. Even in New Zealand when I say the surname I usually have to spell it out character by character! I have several family trees that started off as ISTED, then later became one of its main variants: ISTEAD, ISTEED (latter two surnames are rare) and HISTED. Some HISTED families became HIGHSTE(A)D or HYSTE(A)D -€“ the latter surnames are rare.

Historical occurrences of the name

The earliest document located so far that mentions ISTED or one of its variants is in the Custumals of Sussex Manors of the Archbishop of Canterbury c1285. In the borough of Mayfield, Sussex there is listed: William de ISTEDE, Emma de ISTEDE and John de ISTEDE. Two ISTEDs are recorded in the medieval documents - Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1327 & 1332. I have only come across two documents with the ISTED name in the 1400s -€“ both are re Laurence ISTED of Framfield, Sussex. There is record of a Richard and Joan ISTED who were Ironmasters of Moat Mill Forge (c1520s-1557) in Mayfield, Sussex. A John ISTED (possible brother to Richard the ironmaster) was a Freeman, Jurat, Bailiff as well as Burgess of the Cinque Port of Hastings (in Sussex) and in 1547 he presented an account to Parliament (during the reign of King Edward VI). A Thomas ISTED was Ironmaster of Hawksden Forge in Mayfield pre-1590; another by the same name was Clerk to the Winchelsea Cinque Port from 1609-1617. His possible brother John was a Brewer in the town of Hastings. Perhaps the same John ISTED was also Chamberlain for the Cinque Port of Hastings in 1616. There is a probate record of a Richard ISTEED who was a Physician in the county of Devon, who made his Will in 1623. In 1662 a death is recorded for a Thomas ISTED, citizen and Apothecary of London. One early branch of the ISTEDs (of Framfield and Lewes) had a considerable Estate; part of which continued with this gentry family until 1718 when it was sold by a Thomas ISTED (1677-1731), Esquire of Ecton in the county of Northamptonshire, England.

However, among the so called '€˜well-to-do'€™ ISTEDs, there were also a few scandalous, law breaking ISTEDs! In 1643 a Richard ISTED was fined one shilling for an assault at Maresfield, Sussex. In 1646 Edward ISTED (my 8x great-grandfather) appeared in the court books for digging up roads for iron ore in Warbleton. In the 1648 Sussex Quarter Sessions, Thomas and Margaret ISTED of Heathfield were fined for stealing portions of a lamb. On 3rd April 1850, John ISTED already in Hastings gaol, was charged with burning his name in a bench with a hot wire. The list goes on .....

Name frequency

In England from the late 1500s onwards the ISTED surname begins to appear more frequently in various documents; especially in the parish registers of: Mayfield, Framfield, Ashburnham, Brightling, Hastings (all in Sussex); Bletchingley, Nutfield and Lingfield (all in Surrey); Tonbridge and Lamberhurst (in Kent). From the 1600s-1800s many ISTEDs were still in above mentioned parishes plus Warbleton, Wartling, Herstmonceux and Hailsham (the latter 4 link to my ancestors), Buxted, Waldron, Dallington, Lewes, Maresfield, East Grinstead, Balcombe, Worth. By the mid-1800s, one of the most populated areas outside the county of Sussex was the parish of Croydon, county of Surrey.

In the GRO England & Wales bmds 1837-2005 there are 11,823 records of ISTED & variants:

  • Births: 5020 (The average number of births per year from 1837-1937 was about 31)
  • Marriages: 3537 (The average number of births per year from 1837-1937 was about 17)
  • Deaths 3266 (The average number of deaths per year from 1837-1937 was about 18)

In the UK (mostly England & Wales) Census pre-1841-1911, there are 7048 records of ISTED & variants:

  • Pre-1841 Census: 32
  • 1841 Census: 490
  • 1851 Census: 614
  • 1861 Census: 696
  • 1871 Census: 851
  • 1881 Census: 1007 {ISTED:494,ISTEAD:66,ISTEED:24,HIGHSTE(A)D:77,HISTE(A)D:318,HYSTE(A)D:31}
  • 1891 Census: 1085
  • 1901 Census: 1351
  • 1911 Census: 1444

NB. The above figures are not final but probably represent about 98% of the totals. Only the 1881 census is complete regarding surname stats.

Distribution of the name

The main distribution of the name ISTED is in the English county of Sussex, especially East Sussex compared to West Sussex. There are still numerous ISTEDs in both those counties to this day. I have estimated that around 66% of all ISTED births, baptisms, marriages, deaths & burials from 1837-1937 occurred in the county of Sussex, England.

Some families (mainly from 1800s) moved away to the nearby South East counties of: Hampshire, Surrey, Kent as well as London, Middlesex and Essex. Very few ISTEDs settled outside these English counties until transport technology progressed. A few adventurous ISTEDs went abroad from the mid-late 1800s onwards and settled in the countries of: USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Very few settled in Europe or any other parts of the world.


I have an estimated 31,000 records of ISTED and variants. Most of these are United Kingdom based.

Births, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths, Burials:

  • Australia Births 1788-1922, Marriages 1788-1949, Deaths 1787-1985: 109 records
  • British Isles Vital Records Index: 302 Christenings + 131 Marriages = total 433 records
  • England & Wales GRO births, marriages, deaths 1837-2006: 11,823 records
  • NZ Births, Marriages, Deaths 1848-1990: 245 records
  • Scotland Parish Registers & Statutory Registers of Births, Marriages, Deaths: 59 records
  • UK International Genealogical Index of Christenings & Marriages: 1778 records
  • Worldwide (but mostly UK) Parish Registers & Bishops Transcripts: 5000 records

Census Records:

  • Canada Census 1851-1911: 321 records (indexes only)
  • Scotland Census 1841-1911: 17 records
  • UK Census pre-1841-1911: 7048 records
  • USA Census 1790-1930: 1506 records (indexes only)

Other Records:

  • Australia Electoral Rolls 1903-1954: 268 records (index only)
  • NZ Electoral Rolls 1853-1981: 893 records (index only)
  • England & Wales Probates (Wills & Admons) 1383-1966: 573 records (mostly index only)
  • Newspapers (mostly British): 70 records
  • Telephone Directories (mostly UK, AUS, NZ mid-1980s): 352 records
  • UK Incoming Passenger Lists 1878-1960: 200 records (index only)
  • UK Leaving Passenger Lists 1890-1960: 259 records (index only)
  • UK Memorial Inscriptions of Graves/Headstones: 150 records

As yet I don'€™t have many Military records apart from ones listed on Commonwealth War Graves website.

At present I don'€™t have any of the above mentioned data archived with the Guild.

I have around 50 compiled ISTED and variant Family Trees (mostly UK based) with many linking to either the large branch in East Sussex or West Sussex. I haven'€™t found a common link between them as yet but suspect it might be in the 1400s or earlier. Many of the ISTEDs in Surrey, London, Middlesex and overseas (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, USA) have links to Sussex. The English county of Kent has several non-related and miscellaneous trees, mainly re the variants: HISTE(A)D, HIGHSTE(A)D, HYSTE(A)D, which predominate in that county.

I have also collected data on various places and/or objects bearing the Isted name or variants, worldwide.


In October 2013 I became a Co-Administrator to the ISTED DNA Project which was originally setup by Group Project Administrator, Liz HAYWARD (she has links to ISTEDs of Mid & West Sussex and probably pre-1667 links to Surrey). The link is:

 The ISTED DNA Project welcomes all participants. We encourage you to join today! Our project is just getting started, and we expect to have many exciting discoveries. Participating is an opportunity to uncover information not provided in the paper records, which will help with your family history research. We will also discover which family trees are related. As the project progresses, the results for the various family trees will provide information about the evolution of the surname. The surnames in this DNA Project are researched as part of the ISTED one-name study.