Sometimes the origin of a surname is quite easy to trace, although as to why it developed in a certain way is no always easy to explain - this is one of them! recorded in the spellings of Isson, Ison, Izen, Jesson, Yesson, Ysson, and no doubt many other, this is one of the many spellings of the patronymic form of 'Joseph'. As to how many forms there are of Joseph is unclear, but it certainly runs into hundreds and is found in every European country. Its popularity is mainly as a result of 'Crusader' 12th century influence, when soldiers returning from the famous expeditions to free the Holy Land, named their children after the famous early Christians and in commemoration of their fathers exploits. All such surnames as Joseph, Abraham, and Isaac as examples, are therefore Christian in origin in Europe, and not Jewish. In this case the development would seem to have been from Joseph to the nicknames Joss and Jess, to which was added the patronymic 'son'. However dialects being thick, spelling being poor, and the change from Norman French (11th century) to Middle English (13th century) to Standard English (16th century onwards), has created this wide range of spellings. Examples taken from church registers include Thomas Izen, christened at St Botolphs without Aldgate, on June 25th 1581, Thomas Ysson, christened at St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, on April 25th 1591, and John Isson, christened at St Brides, Fleet Street, London, on January 15th 1601. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Josepsone, which was dated 1332, the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Cumberland, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as 'The father of the Navy', 1327 - 1377. 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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