Recorded in many forms including Whistance, Whistan, Whiston, Whitestone, Wistance, Wiston, Wistow, and Whoston, this is an English surname. It is locational from any of the places called White Stone, Whitestone, Whitestones, Whitston, Whiston in Devonshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and even the Isle of Man . However spelt most if not quite all derive their name from the Olde English pre 7th century word "hwit" meaning white, and "stan", a stone. Sometimes Hwit may have been an ethnic personal name perhaps for a Norseman or a Saxon, who were generally much fairer skinned than the Olde English and Welsh, whilst Whiston in Northamptonshire is named from its association with the "Hwicce" tribe said to be prominent in the area. However Hwicce itself is close in pronunciation to Hwit, suggesting that the two might be the same. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 13th century, see below, and other examples of recordings include William de Whiston in the Northampton County Records for the year 1292, and Cissota de Wistones, (later Whistance), of Yorkshire in 1309. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Arnald de Wiston. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Nottinghamshire, during the reign of King Edward Ist of England. He was known as "The Hammer of the Scots" and reigned from 1272 to 1307. 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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