Recorded in many spellings including Whitson, Whitsun, Whiteson, Whittson, Whetson, Witson, Wittson and possibly others, this is an English and occasionally Scottish, medieval surname. It is believed to have two origins. The must usual like the surname White, is from the pre 7th century Olde English word 'hwit' which does mean white. As such it may have referred either to a person with white hair or complexion, but more likely was used by the resident Anglo-Saxons as an ethnic descriptive name for a Viking. If so, it was probably not entirely friendly! Perhaps however when it became a patronymic, the early enmities had been lost. The second possible origin is locational from a place called Whitston, or the White Stone. Prominent white stones were often used as boundary markers for counties or district councils, and sometimes became villages in their own right. This would seem to be the case in the villages of Whitston in Devon and Cornwall, and Whitestone, of which examples exist in Hereford, Devon, and even the Isle of Man. The earliest examples of the surname recording are believed to be those of Nicholas Witesone of the village of Battle in the county of Sussex in in the year 1292, Walter Hwyttesone of Shropshire in 1318, and John Witsesone of Sussex in 1327. William Quhitsoun was recorded in Perth, Scotland, in 1369. Other recordings include Elizabeth Whitson at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, in 1592, and Francis Witson, who was christened at St Botolphs without Aldgate, in the city of London, on October 18th 1719.
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