This unusual name is of Old French origin, and an occupational or topographical surname for someone who either worked at a parson's home, or lived at or by a parson's house. The derivation is from the Old French term "personage", introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066, and meaning a benefice, or living, hence the house and estate held by a parson. The English vocabulary word "parson" is also of old French origin, from "persone", itself from the Latin "persona", person, character; the most likely explanation for the shift in meaning from "parson" to "priest" is that the local priest was regarded as the representative person of the parish. The surname Parson is first recorded in the 1197 Norfolk Pipe Rolls, as William Persun, and early examples of the occupational or topographical forms include; Gilbert ad Parsons (1297, Cornwall), and William atte Personnes (1327, Suffolk). Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. London Church Registers record the marriage of Walter Personage and Elizabeth Wallis at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, on June 10th 1574, and Margaret Parsonage married Thomas Allen at St. Stephan's, Coleman Street, on May 7th 1610. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roberte Parsonage, which was dated 8th January 1561, marriage to Katheryn Barckeley, at St. Vedast, Foster Lane, London, during the reign of Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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