This interesting surname is English. In origin it is pre 7th Century and topographical for someone who lived in the eastern part of a town or settlement, or in the case of Eastway for instance, by the road (weg) leading eastwards. It could also be a regional name for someone who had migrated to the West Country was therefore regarded as coming from the east! West, North and South are similar surnames and were amongst the earliest to be created. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as East, Eastes, Este and compounds such as Eastbrook, Easterby, Eastaway and Eastway. Early recordings include Richard Eastwaie married to Elizabeth Cool at St Margaret's Westminster, on November 15th 1610, whilst William East was an early emigrant to the New World Colonies. He left the Port of London on the ship "Paule" on July 15th 1635, bound for the colony of Virginia. Other recordings from church registers include the marriage of John East and Margret Gilbert on August 1st 1597, at St. Lawrence, Pountney, and the marriage of Anne Eastwaye and John Manyon on November 1st 1619, at St Margarets Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph del Est, which was dated 1196 - 1237, recorded at Colchester, Essex, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.