Show ContentsFilson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Filson family first reached the shores of England in the wave of migration after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Their name is derived from the ancient given name Phillip. Phillip derives from the Greek name Phillipos, which derives from the words philein, meaning to love, and hippos, meaning horse.

Early Origins of the Filson family

The surname Filson was first found in Berwickshire. However some of the family were also found in the parish of Windermere in Westmorland. "The church [of Windermere], situated at Bowness, is a simple and venerable edifice, of which the east window of stained glass is said to have been brought from Furness Abbey: there are several curious memorials of the Philipson family, once the owners of Rayrigg, Calgarth, and the Island; and among the monuments of modern date." [1]

Early History of the Filson family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Filson research. Another 168 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1305 and 1450 are included under the topic Early Filson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Filson Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Phillipson, Phillippson, Philippson, Philipson and others.

Early Notables of the Filson family

More information is included under the topic Early Filson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Filson Ranking

In the United States, the name Filson is the 15,842nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]

United States Filson migration to the United States +

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Filson or a variant listed above:

Filson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mat Filson, who arrived in America in 1806 [3]
  • John Filson, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1853 [3]
  • Robert Dalzell Filson, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1858 [3]
  • David M Filson, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1878 [3]

Australia Filson migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Filson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Filson, English convict who was convicted in Liverpool, Merseyside, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Eliza" on 25th June 1828, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]

New Zealand Filson migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Filson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Filson, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Jura" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd September 1858 [5]

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th February 2022). Retrieved from
  5. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from on Facebook