Surprisingly this is not a locational surname from any of the various places called Charleston or Charlestown. It is much earlier and derives from the personal name Charles and in particular the varied patronymics which include Carlson, Charlson, Charlesson, Charleston, and Charlestone. Although regarded as English, it is of pre 5th century Germanic origins from the personal name Karl or Carl. This translates as "man", and later in the medieval period was Latinized to Carolus and Charles. The personal name was introduced into England by the Norman-French after the Invasion of 1066, but was never popularized until the Stuart period in the 16th century.All the places so named are after this date, and also several centuries after the creation of surnames. In France the name was popular from an early date owing to the fame of the Emperor Charlemagne, (Charles the Great), King of the Franks (742-814). In a few cases the surname may be of 8th century English origin, from the word "ceorl", meaning a farmer or bondsman. The personal name as "Carolus" was first recorded in the charter known as the "Curia Rolls" of the county of Suffolk in the year 1208. Amongst the first surname recordings are those of Frethesant Cherl in the charters of the county of Cambridgeshire, England, in 1221, whilst in Germany Rudolf Karle was recorded as a Klosterdiener (monastery worker) in the registers of the town of St Bastien, in the year 1275. One of the first settlers in the Virgina colony of New England was Dorothie Charleson, who sailed thereon the ship "Transport of London" in 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Osbert Cherle. This was dated 1193, in the "Pipe Rolls" of the county of Warwickshire, England during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199.
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