This most interesting surname, found mainly in England where it has been recorded since the late 13th Century, is a patronymic form of the personal name "John", which itself comes from the Hebrew name "Yochanan", meaning "Jehovah (God) has favoured (me with a son)", or "may Jehovah favour (this child)", and which enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe throughout the Christian Era. It is usually Latinized as "Johannes" in early documents and is found in the Old French personal names Johan, Jehan and Jean. By the beginning of the 14th Century, John rivalled William in popularity and has always been a favourite name. Wautier Jonessone was mentioned in the Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland in 1296 (Berwickshire), and William Johnson and Robert Johanson were recorded in 1379 in the Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire. Modern variant spellings of the surname include Jonson, Joinson and Joynson. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Jonessone, which was dated 1287, in "A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds", Surrey, 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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