This rare and unusual surname has two possible origins. The first is locational from a place called Wilsham in Devon , or perhaps some lost village of the same name. Alternatively it, and more probably it may derive from a diminutive of the personal name 'William' i.e.' Williams Kin', firstly shortened to Wilekin or similar, and then by dialectal process to Wil(l)shin or Willshen. 'William' was the most popular early medieval baptismal name, and it gave rise to literally hundreds of variant surnames, some very rare.These variants in themselves created overlaps with similar sounding or spelling surnames, making a final analysis of origin, extremely difficult or even impossible. As an example the village name of Wilsham is recorded as Winnesamme, Wylshame, Wylesham, and probably other forms as well, whilst the modern Wilkin is first found in the 1086 Domesday Book as Wilechin, Willikin, Welkin, etc before arriving at the later spellings. What can be said with certainty is that Wilshin and its other spelling of Willshen has been recorded for a long time. A good example is that of Richard Wilshin who married Anne Wilshin, probably a cousin, at the church of St Gregory and St Paul, London on April 20th 1620. A coat of arms was granted to the family. This is a gold field, with the blazon of a red engrailed cross, and a crest of a gold cup. This suggests a person of wealth, who fought for the true religion, and may have been granted to a member of the church. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Wilekin, which was dated 1180, The pipe rolls of Winton, Hampshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'The church builder', 1154- 1189. 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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