This intriguing and unusual name has nothing to do with bureaucracy but is of French origin and is a dialectal variant of the locational name Lison from a place so called in Calvados, Normandy, and is of obscure etymology. The name was probably introduced into Britain by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066 and was quickly anglicized into the vernacular form, as can be seen from the earliest recording. By 1524, the name was recorded as William Lycens in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk, by December 1st 1554 it had changed again for e.g. Margareta Lyson married Rogerus Bosley at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster. Some twenty years later, recorded in St. Margaret's, Westminster was the marriage of one Elizabeth Lycence to John Michell on February 18th 1577, and later still the christening of Jacob Licence son of Lawrence Licence on February 21st 1615 at St. Giles, Cripplegate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godfrey de Lisun, which was dated 1195, in the "Pipe Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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