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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Willson family come from? What is the Scottish Willson family crest and coat of arms? When did the Willson family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Willson family history?

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

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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, Willson has been spelled Wilson, Willson, Wilsone, Wulson, Wilsoun and others.

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]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Willson research. Another 333 words(24 lines of text) covering the years 1563, 1603, 1685, 1680 and 1750 are included under the topic Early Willson History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 89 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Willson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Willson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 143 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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 Willson:

Willson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Gabriell Willson, who landed in Virginia in 1650
  • Faith Willson, who arrived in Maryland in 1652-1653
  • Henry Willson, who landed in Virginia in 1654
  • Jeffry Willson, who landed in Virginia in 1654
  • Robert Willson, who arrived in Virginia in 1657


Willson Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • James Willson, who landed in North Carolina in 1702
  • Ann Willson, who arrived in North Carolina in 1702
  • William Willson, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1745
  • Charles Willson, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746
  • Samuel Willson, who landed in North Carolina in 1748

Willson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Zachariah Willson, aged 64, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Edward Willson, aged 19, landed in New York in 1812
  • Abraham R Willson, aged 29, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Alexander Willson, who landed in New York in 1812
  • George Willson, aged 21, arrived in New York in 1812


Willson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Hiram R Willson, who arrived in Canada in 1828
  • Levi Willson, who landed in Canada in 1832
  • Mordecai Willson, who landed in Canada in 1832
  • Richard D Willson, who landed in Canada in 1834
  • Asher Willson, who arrived in Canada in 1834


Willson Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century


  • Wynne Willson, who landed in St John, New Brunswick in 1907

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  • Vice Admiral Russell Willson (1883-1948), American Vice Admiral, inventor of the Naval Cipher Box
  • Paul Willson (b. 1945), American actor
  • Robert Meredith Willson (1902-1984), American composer, playwright and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Henry Willson (1911-1978), American talent agent
  • Forceythe Willson (1837-1867), American poet
  • Brian Willson (b. 1941), American USAF veteran, activist
  • Augustus E. Willson (1846-1931), American politician
  • William Willson MBE (1972-1975), English chairman of Aston Martin
  • Michael Willson (b. 1963), British actor
  • John Willson (1776-1860), Canadian judge and politician

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  • Descendants in Canada and the United States of Benjamin and Sarah Willson by Thomas B. Wilson.
  • Willson, Wilson, and Allied Lines by Clotilde Wilson Blower.
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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.

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  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)

Other References

  1. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  2. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  4. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  5. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  6. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  7. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  8. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  10. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  11. ...

The Willson Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Willson Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 24 May 2013 at 14:19.

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