This unusual and interesting name has two possible sources, although in either case the form "Bilson" is the patronymic, meaning "Son of Bil(l)". The first and most generally applicable source is that from a Germanic personal name "Bill", which was either a short form of other compound names such as "Bilard" or Billaud" or was itself a byname (nickname) as "Bill(a)", derived from the Old English pre 7th Century word "bil" meaning "Sword" or "Halberd". There is no record of "Bill" being used as a short form of "William" during the Middle Ages. The second source for the surname is as a metonymic occupational name for one who made pruning hooks and such like implements, from the Middle English "Bill", originally "sword" but later used for more peaceful agricultural applications. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Bilson, married Margery Pussye. which was dated 1561, in the London marriage Licences. during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as Good Queen Bess, 1558 - 1603. 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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