Dempster Family History
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Dempster Name Meaning
Scottish, Manx, and English: occupational name for a judge or arbiter of minor disputes, from Old English dem(e)stre, a derivative of the verb demian ‘to judge or pronounce judgement’. Although this was originally a feminine form of the masculine demere, by the Middle English period the suffix -stre had lost its feminine force, and the term was used of both sexes. The surname is not common in England, where the term was early replaced by Anglo-Norman French juge (see Judge), but relatively frequent in Scotland, where until 1747 every laird of a barony could have certain offenses within his territory tried by his dempster, and on the Isle of Man, where deemsters also played an important part in the administration of justice. Irish (especially County Down): as 1, but also occasionally used instead of Dempsey.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press