Recorded as Bills, Bilson, Billson and the rare Billison, this is an English patronymic surname. It has several possible origins, of which we give the three most likely examples. The first and most generally applicable source is that from a Anglo-Saxon or Germanic personal name of the pre 7th century "Bill". This was a short form of other compound names such as Bilard or Billaud. The second possible origin was as metonymic or nickname which derived from the Old English pre 7th Century word "bil" meaning a bilhook. This was an implement used in noormal life as an agricultural implement for pruning and trimming, but which in times of war could be a fearsome weapon. Whether this name described a person who used such a weapon, or perhaps was a maker of them, is unclear. What is certain is that there is no record of Bill being used as a short form of the Norman-French name "William" until very much later, and well after the formation of most surnames in the 13th century. Early examples of the surname recording include Willemus Bille of Yorkshire in 1301, Thomas Bilson, who married Margery Pussye. This was was dated 1561, in the lists of London marriages during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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