Recorded as Gilson, Gilleson and Gillson, this is an English, and sometimes Scottish surname. It has two origins, the first being from the baptisimal name Giles. This achieved its fame through St. Giles, an Athenian who left Greece in order to escape the fame of his miracles, and became a hermit in France apparently during the time of the Emperor Charleamagne. Secondly it icould be of Gaelic or Celtic origin from the word 'gille' meaning a follower, and used specifically to describe one who "followed" the teachings of a particular holy man or god. St. Giles besides being the patron saint of Scotland is also the patron saint of the poverty stricken and beggars. The name reached the British Isles in the 12th century mainly through the famous Crusaders. They were hard at work throughout that century trying, and failing pretty badly, in their self appointed task of freeing the Holy Land from the Muslims. It is said that the first recording of the surname as Ailward Gile is in the Pipe Rolls of Northumberland in 1176, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England (1154 - 1189). The Scots and Irish surname Mac an Ghoill translates as 'The son of the follower', and from this it is also claimed that Gilson is an anglicized form. The first recorded spelling of the patronymic is believed to be that of John Gilleson. This was dated 1332, in the Pipe Rolls of Cumbria. 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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