This unusual name, which is widespread in Yorkshire, is a patronymic surname from two possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "pea, pawa", a peacock, with the patronymic suffix "son", son of. Paw originated as a nickname for someone bearing a fancied resemblance to a peacock, a particularly proud person, or one who wore bright, gaudy clothes. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics. Secondly, Paw may be a diminutive of the male given name Paul, from the Latin "Paulus", meaning "small". Paul has always been popular in Christendom; it was the name adopted by the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus after his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus. He played one of the most significant roles in establishing Christianity as a major world religion. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Richard Pawson and Mary Hall on May 8th 1575, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London; and the christening of Sarah, daughter of John and Mary Pawson, on November 27th 1735, at St. Nicholas, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a gold cross, fretty red, between four gold annulets on an azure shield, the Crest being a gold griffin's head. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon Paweson, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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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