Recorded in several spelling forms including Denison, Dennison, and Dennyson, this is a surname of English and Scottish medieval origins. It is a patronymic of the surname Dennis, itself as a personal name derived from the Ancient Greek "Dionysios", said to have been an eastern and possibly hebrew, god. The name was borne by various early Christian saints, including St. Denis, the martyred 3rd Century bishop of Paris, who became the patron saint of France. The popularity of the name in England from the 12th Century onwards seems to have been largely due to a combination of the Norman-French influence following the Conquest of 1066, and the later crusades to the Holy Land in the 12th century. It became a custom for returning soldiers and pilgrims to call their subsequent children by biblical names, in honour of the fathers exploits. The earliest recording of the surname was that of Adam Deynissone, in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of the county of Suffok in 1381, whilst three centuries later one of the first settlers in the colonies of New England was Edward Denison, aged 22, formerly of London, who was recorded as living in Virginia in January 1624. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was often 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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