This most interesting surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be a patronymic form of "Ellis", which itself derives from the early medieval English personal name "Elis", the normal vernacular form of "Elijah", from the Greek "Elias", from the Hebrew name "Eliyahu", meaning "Jehovah is God", with the patronymic ending "-son", son of. Secondly, the name may perhaps be of Old German origin, from the Old Germanic female personal name "Elisind" and Old French "Elissent, Elisant", which appears in the recording of Adam filius Elysant in the Pipe Rolls of Hertfordshire in 1190. Early examples of the surname from the former source, which became popular among Christians due to the biblical prophet Elijah, include Adam Elisson, mentioned in the Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1379, and John Ellyson, recorded in the "Register of the Freemen of the City of York" in 1487; while from the latter source the surname first appears in the Subsidy Rolls of Essex, when one Henry Elesant is recorded in 1327. One Thomas Ellison was an early emigrant to the New World, having embarked from London for Virginia in 1624. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rogier Elyssone, of Berwickshire, which was dated 1296, in the "Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland", during the reign of King John Balliol of Scotland, 1292 - 1296. 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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