This famous surname is regarded as being of Anglo-Scottish origins, although with Norman antecedents. Found in the spellings of Atkinson, Aitchison, Acheson, Aicheson, and Aitcheson, it is as a patronymic form of the medieval male given name Atkin or Adkin, itself a double diminutive of the Hebrew name 'Adam', meaning 'red earth'. Adam (as a baptismal name) is first recorded in the English Domesday Book of 1086, suggesting that it was an introduction after the 1066 Invasion. Certainly thereafter it became steadily more popular creating further diminutives such as Adcock and Atcock, with the same meaning. Early examples include Adekin filius Turst (Adekin the son of Turst) in the 1191 Pipe Rolls of Norfolk, and John Adekyn in the 1296 Records of Crowland Abbey, Cambridgeshire. William Atkyns was recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire, dated 1327, and John Atkinson was listed in the Assessments relating to the feudal lists of the county of Westmorland in 1402. Further examples are those of James Aitchesoun, master of the Scottish Mint in 1553, and Marc Aichesone or Acheson of Achesounes hevin (now Morrisons Haven), in 1609. A very interesting recording is that of John Atkinson, aged 24 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship "Bonaventure", bound for Virginia, on Janaury 15th 1634. He was one of the earliest settlers in the New World Colonies. The coat of arms granted in 1604 has the blazon of a red field, charged with a gold bend cotised, and thereon three red helmets. The crest is a wolf head erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Atkynsoun, which was dated 1387, in the "Records of North Berwick", Scotland, during the reign of King Robert 11 of Scotland, 1371 - 1390. 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.
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