This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from either a place called Bilston in Staffordshire, which appears as "Bilsetnatun" in 996 in Dugdale's "Monasticon Anglicanum"; or from Bilstone in Leicestershire, recorded as "Bildestone" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The former placename is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century "Bilsaetan", which means "the dwellers at Bil"; this may have been the name of the hill near Bilston, from the Olde English "bill", sword, plus "-tun", a village or settlement. The latter placename in Leicestershire is composed of the Old Scandinavian personal name "Bildr, Bild", and "-tun", as mentioned above. Locational surnames were acquired by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Early examples of the surname include: the marriage of Thomas Bilston and Margaret Bidle at Shackerstone, Leicestershire, on November 22nd 1567; and the marriage of Alice Bilston to Thomas Heskin at Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, on October 23rd 1624. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Bilston, which was dated July 24th 1558, marriage to An Tomson, at Shackerstone, Leicestershire, 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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