The surname of STINSON was a baptismal name 'the son of Stephen' an ancient font name. This given name was originally derived from the Greek Stephanos, meaning 'crown'. This was a popular name throughout Christendom in the Middle Ages, having been borne by the first Christian martyr, stoned to death at Jerusalem three years after the death of Christ. Early records of the name mention Joseph Stinson who was recorded in the year 1273 in County Yorkshire and Edward Stimpsone, of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name is also spelt STIMSON. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name. In a muster-roll of able-bodied men at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1539, occurs the names of Edward Stynson with four other men. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. Later instances of the name include Hugh, son of John Stimpson, who was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1624, and Thomas, son of Thomas Stimpson was baptised at the same church in 1705. Thomas Elbrook and Mary Stempson were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1793. The variant Stiven arose in Scotland at the beginning of the 19th century. A certain John Stephen of Charleston, near Glamis Castle, began to keep a journal in 1780 under the spelling Stephen, but by the time he came to write his last entry in 1830, he was signing himself John Stiven.
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