This famous surname which in the early days of motoring was associated with quality vehicle manufacture, is English. It is locational from a small parish in County Durham, that originally formed part of the Roman defensive system based upon Hadrians Wall. The name means "The long fort" from the pre 7th century words "lang ceastria". The village was first recorded in the year 1196 as Langcestr, whilst the surname appears in the Hundred Rolls of the landowners of Northumber in 1273, with the recording of Roger de Lancastre. Locational surnames were by their very nature "from" names as is shown by this first recording. It was then and it sometimes remains so even in the 20th century, that the best way to identify a stranger was to call him or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic and local dialects very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. In this case other examples in the register of the diocese of Greater London include: James Pickernell who married Elizabeth Lanchester at St Georges chapel, Mayfair, in 1730 and James Lanchester, who married Mary Dorrington at the same church in 1790.