Willison History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The story of the Willison family stretches back through time to the Viking settlers who populated the rugged shores of Scotland in the Medieval era. The name Willison was derived from the personal name William. The name literally was derived from the patronymic expression son of William or son of Wil. [1]

"The family are said to be descended from a Prince of Denmark, and were established at a very remote period in the Orkney islands, intermarrying with the clans of Monro, and others. After a long continuance in the north, alliances taking place with some of the principal Lowland families, the Wilsons moved southward. " [2]

Early Origins of the Willison family

The surname Willison was first found in Berwickshire an ancient county of Scotland, presently part of the Scottish Borders Council Area, located in the eastern part of the Borders Region of Scotland, where John Wulson was a merchant in the service of Sir John of Montgomery in 1405. Michael Wilsoun was Burgess of Irvine in 1418, and John Wilson was Burgess of Berwick in 1467. [1]

Early History of the Willison family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Willison research. Another 237 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1563, 1563, 1567, 1662, 1603, 1685, 1680, 1750 and are included under the topic Early Willison History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Willison Spelling Variations

Spelling variations are extremely common among Scottish names dating from this era because the arts of spelling and translation were not yet standardized. Spelling was done by sound, and translation from Gaelic to English was generally quite careless. In different records, Willison has been spelled Wilson, Willson, Wilsone, Wulson, Wilsoun and others.

Early Notables of the Willison family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Margaret Wilson (died 1685), one of the Wigton martyrs, a young Scottish Covenanter from Wigtownshire executed by drowning for...
Another 26 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Willison Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Willison family to Ireland

Some of the Willison family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 90 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Willison migration to the United States +

Those who made the voyage were greeted with ample opportunity to acquire land and a political climate far away from the oppressive monarchy of the old country. They settled along the east coast of what would become Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence, those who remained loyal to England traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In this century, many Scots living in North America have begun to recover their rich heritage through festivals, highland games, and Clan societies. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Willison:

Willison Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Ed Willison, who landed in Virginia in 1666 [3]
Willison Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anne Willison, who arrived in Virginia in 1704 [3]
  • Robert Willison, who arrived in South Carolina in 1729 [3]
  • James Willison, who arrived in Virginia in 1787 [3]
Willison Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • R Willison, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [3]
Willison Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Alexander Willison, aged 55, who settled in America from Ayrshire, in 1904
  • Mr. C. L. Willison, aged 25, who landed in America, in 1904
  • Andrew Willison, aged 19, who landed in America from Bronghty Ferry, Scotland, in 1907
  • Willison, aged 23, who immigrated to the United States from Dundee, Scotland, in 1907
  • John Willison, aged 56, who immigrated to the United States from Derby, England, in 1908
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Willison migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Willison Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Willison U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [4]
Willison Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • John Stephen Willison, aged 53, who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1910
  • Beatrice Willison, aged 36, who settled in Toronto, Ont., Canada, in 1914
  • Frank Willison, aged 15, who settled in Toronto, Ont., Canada, in 1914
  • William Henry Willison, aged 49, who settled in Goodwood, Canada, in 1923

Australia Willison migration to Australia +

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

Willison Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Walter Willison, aged 38, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Flora" [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Willison (post 1700) +

  • Walter Willison (b. 1947), American Tony Award nominated stage actor
  • George Findley Willison (1896-1972), American writer and editor who specialized in American history, best known for his book Saints and Strangers, about the lives of the Mayflower Pilgrims
  • Brian Willison (b. 1977), American academic, former Executive Director of the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping, Geneva, Switzerland
  • George Willison (1741-1797), Scottish portrait-painter, a son of David Willison, an Edinburgh printer and publisher, and a grandson of John Willison, Scottish divine [6]
  • John Willison (1680-1750), Scottish divine, born at or near Stirling, where his family had been long settled and possessed considerable property [6]
  • John Willison (1680-1750), Scottish Christian minister and author
  • Jackson Dan Kingi Willison (b. 1988), New Zealand rugby union footballer, member of the New Zealand under-20 (2010) and the All Blacks (2010-)
  • Simon Willison, British programmer, co-founder of the social conference directory Lanyrd, co-creator of the Django Web framework
  • Marjorie Willison, Canadian author of books on gardening and a radio personality on CBC Radio One
  • Leigh Matthew Willison (b. 1969), former Australian rules footballer who played for Western Australia in 1998
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Willison Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Vincit qui se vincit
Motto Translation: He conquers, who conquers himself.


  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
  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. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  5. ^ South Australian Register Monday 9th April 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Flora 1855. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/flora1855.shtml
  6. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 4 Feb. 2019


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