Recorded as Ileson, Ilson, Illson, Illston, Iliston, Ilston, and probably others, this is an English surname. For some of the spellings it may be a patronymic and describe 'The hamlet or farm of Hilde', an early pre 7th century personal name meaning 'battle,' or more likely it is locational from a place called Illston on the Hill, in the county of Leicestershire. In this case the name is known to mean 'Elfs settlement' being recorded as Elvestone in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. Whether Elf was a personal name or whether it described a place where elves were thought to be found in those ancient times, is not clear. Locational surnames are usually from names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic, and local accents very thick, often lead as with this name, to the development of alternative spellings. Examples of recordings in surviving church registers of the city of London include Alice Ileson who married James Marshall at St James Clerkenwell in the city of London, on November 25th 1607, and Elizabeth Illston who married Will Saunders at St Katherines by the Tower (of London), on July 7th 1678.
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