This interesting and unusual name has two possible sources, both patronymic, the first being from the Old English pre 7th Century word "dunn", meaning dark or swarthy, thus "son of the dark one". However it may also be a dialectal variant of Donaldson, a name of Scottish and Irish origin, which is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic patronymic name 'MacDomhnall', meaning 'son of Donald'. The Gaelic personal name 'Domhnall' is composed of the Celtic elements 'dubro' meaning 'world' and 'val', meaning 'might, rule', and is found in 13th Century Scotland as 'Dofnald', 'Douenald' and 'Dufenald'. As a surname it first appears in 1328, when one Haket Donald paid his 'contribution for peace' to the Bailie of Kinross, recorded in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland. The variants of Donnison include, Donison, Doneson, Donoson and Donnysone, and in London at St. James, Clerkenwell, one Mary Donnison was christened on October 20th 1734. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Donaldson, of the Garison of Edinburgh Castle, which was dated 1339, Scottish Public Records Office, during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. 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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