This is a famous Anglo-Scottish surname of great antiquity. Very popular in the north of England and the Border Country, it is one of the patronymic forms of the pre 7th century popular male personal name Watt, itself a development of the Anglo-Saxon personal name and later surname, Walter. This has the interesting translation of 'powerful warrior'. It is also claimed that the name was introduced into the British Isles by the Norman-French invaders after the Conquest of England in 1066, in the forms of Waltier and Wautier. Certainly in the medieval period of history the name generated a number of different spellings amongst them the short forms of Wat, Watt and Walt, and from these the patronymics Watts, Wattis, and the popular Watson. The surname in any form is first recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire in England in 1176 as Peganus Wat. In Scotland the earliest recording that we ccan find is that of as John Watson, who held lands in Edinburgh in 1392. Examples of later recordings taken from the early surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London include: the christening of Anne Watson on April 18th 1556, at St. Margaret's, Westminster; and the christening of Assabell Watson on May 16th 1561, at the church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. One of the earliest emigrants to the Virginia Colony in New England was John Watson. He left London on the ship "Speedwell" on May 15th 1635, although his later history is now lost. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Richard Watson. This was dated 1324, in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, in Yorkshire, and during the reign of King Edward 11nd of England, 1307 - 1327. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop," often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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