The surname Nilsen is derived from the Scandinavian personal name Njáll. This name has the same origin as the Gaelic name Niall, which was adopted by Scandinavian settlers in Ireland. Over time, the forms Niels and Nils developed and the patronymic suffix "sen," or "son," meaning 'son of' was added.
Nilsen Spelling Variations
Spelling variations of this family name include: Nielson, Nielssen, Niellsen, Nilsen, Nilson, Nilssen and many more.
Nilsen migration to the United States
Some of the first settlers of this family name were:
Nilsen Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Jonas Nilsen, who arrived in New York, NY in 1743 
Margaret Nilsen, who arrived in New York, NY in 1743 
Nilsen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
^ 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)
^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
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