The surname of JOHNSON was a baptismal name 'the son of John' an ancient and still popular font name. Early records of the name mention John and Gilbertus Jonistone of the County of Norfolk in 1200. Robert Johns of the County of Somerset was documented in the year 1327. Julianna Jonsone of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Evangeliste Johnson was baptised at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in 1583. The name was early in Scotland and William Jonessone, merchant of Aberdeen, complained that his goods shipped in a Flemish vessel had been arrested at Grimsby in 1368. He appears to be the first on record there. John Johnson, a Scot going abroad, had protection granted to travel through England in 1371. Adam Jonesson, a Scots prisoner of war, was discharged from Newgate prison in 1375. This name has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe, being given in honour of St. John, the Baptist, precurser of Christ and of St. John the Evangelist, author of the fourth gospel, as well as others of the nearly one thousand saints of the name. Some of the principal forms of the name in other European languages are EVAN, IOAN, SEAN, JOHANN, HANS, JAN, JEAN, GIOVANNI, GIANNAI, VANNI, JUAN and IVAN. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people.
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