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Wilson is an English and Scottish surname, common in the English-speaking world. The name is derived from a patronymic form of Will, a popular medieval name. The medieval Will is derived from any of several names containing the first Germanic element wil, meaning "desire".[1] Possibly the most common of these names was William, derived from elements wil and helm, meaning "desire" and "helmet", "protection".[2] The surname Wilson is first recorded in England as Willeson in 1324,[3] and in Scotland as Wulson in 1405.[4]

It is the seventh most common surname in England,[5] and tenth most common in the United States.[6], occurring 783,051 times as of 2000.[7] Wilson is also now quite common as a surname in many other countries with a large English-speaking population such as Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand.

Wilson is the third most common surname in Scotland. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century the surname was greatly increased in Ulster by the thousands of Scottish settlers and as a result of this settlement it is the most common Surname in Northern Ireland.

Wilson can also be a given name .

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wilson Family History,, retrieved 16 February 2012 . This webpage cited: Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4 .
  2. ^ Hanks, Patrick; Hardcastle, Kate; Hodges, Flavia (2006), A Dictionary of First Names, Oxford Paperback Reference (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 276, ISBN 978-0-19-861060-1 .
  3. ^ Reaney, Percy Hilde (1995), Wilson, Richard Middlewood, ed., A Dictionary of English Surnames (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 495, ISBN 0-19-863146-4 .
  4. ^ Black, George Fraser (1946), The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History, New York: New York Public Library, p. 817 
  5. ^ Wilson Surname at Forebears
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  7. ^ [1]