This famous and long-established surname may be either of medieval English or Scottish origin, and has two distinct possible sources. As an English surname Ironside belongs to that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were originally given with reference to occupation, or to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, and also to abits of dress. The derivation, in this instance, is from the Middle English "irenside", a compound of the Olde English pre 7th Century "iren", iron, and "side", side, initially denoting an iron-clad warrior, and later extended to mean "a man of great hardihood or bravery". The first and most famous bearer of this nicknames was Edmund Ironside, King of England in 1016. A quotation from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, dated 1057, reads "Iren-side waes geclypod (so called) for his snellscipe (doughtiness)". In 1333, one John Irenside was entered in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York. Scottish bearers of the surname derive their name from Ironside in the parish of New Deer, Aberdeenshire, or from Earnside near Newburgh, Fife, so called from the Olde English elements "earn", eagle, and "side", side (of a hill). In 1570, Mage Irynsyd was recorded in Aberdeen, and Gilbert Ironside was bishop of Bristol, 1661 - 1671. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh Irninside, which was dated 1297, in the "Coram Rege Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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