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Wilson Family History
This is an English patronymic name which means 'son of Will'. The root 'wil' is an Old Germanic word which originally meant 'desire for power or conquest'.
Early bearers of the surname include: Robert Willeson, who appears in the 1324 Wakefield Court Rolls, Yorkshire; Robert Wilson, who appears in the 1341 Kirkstall Coucher Book, Yorkshire; John Willison, who appears in the 1366 Lancashire Subsidy Rolls; and Hugo Wyllesone, who appears in the 1377 Staffordshire Poll Tax.
Several references to the surname are seen on early Scottish records, including a Michael Wilsoun who was burgess of Irvine in 1418; a John Wilson who was burgess of Berwick in 1467; and Thomas Wolsoun who was the tenant of Neubotel Abbey in 1563. During the 19th century the surname was particularly numerous in the region south of the Forth and the Clyde.
In Wales, the surname is far less widespread, but there are some references to it on early 17th century parish registers, mainly in areas close the English border, including parts of Montgomeryshire and Monmouthshire.
In 1881, the surname was widespread and particularly frequent in the southern English county of Kent with 2,692 occurrences. The most popular occupations recorded at the time for Wilson family members included farming, coal mining and labouring.
In 1891, there were 107,942 occurrences of the surname in England and Wales as a whole, and a further 30,528 in Scotland.
Today, there are approximately 1,477,415 Wilson family members around the world. It is estimated that the largest group live in the USA with 1,014,419 members, followed by England with 195,933, Canada with 82,770, Australia with 77,643, Scotland with 43,437, South Africa with 33,852, Ireland with 15,238, New Zealand with 8,048, and Wales with 6,075.
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
The Surnames of Scotland (1946) by George Fraser Black (1866-1948)
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