This maybe one of our most interesting names. It derives from the Olde Norse Viking 'gunnr' - a personal name meaning 'battle' and the medieval English nickname 'gunne' meaning 'a forceful person'. However the most interesting aspect is that the name is enshrined in the descriptive phrase 'son of a gun' a 17th century expression which originally developed from the sailors habit of keeping (semi-officially) women on board the warships. Occasionally births occured 'on the gun deck' and as the fathers were usually any of several candidates, the child was surnamed Gun or Gunn or Gunson, although it must be stressed the origin of the name in most cases is medieval. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Eustace Gunson which was dated 1279 The Hundred Rolls of Cambridge during the reign of King Richard 11 Richard of Bordeaux 1378 - 1400 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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