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Nilson Coat of Arms / Nilson Family Crest

Nilson Coat of Arms / Nilson Family Crest

The surname of NILSON was a baptismal name 'the son of Neil'. There were at least two families of this name of independent origin 'Neilson of Craigcaffie, Ayrshire' and 'Neilson of Caithness'. The Neilsons of Craigcaffie are said to have traced their descent from Neil, earl of Carrick, husband of Margaret Stewart, who died in 1256. Instead of the usual Gaelic prefix MAC they added the word son to Neil, hence Neilson. Sometime after 1314, the lands of Craigcaffie were granted by royal charter to John, son of Neil Carrick, who took the name Neilson. Craigcaffie was erected into a barony in the 16th century, and remained in the possession of the family until the 18th century. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles.


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last updated on: November 23rd, 2019

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