|In Ireland Williamson is almost
exclusive to Ulster and is most common in counties
Antrim, Derry, Armagh and Tyrone; most will be of
Scottish origin. Williams is less common in Ulster
than in Leinster and Munster. It is more common in
Co. Antrim than elsewhere and most will be of English or
The personal name William derives from the Old German Willihelm and when introduced into Britain by the Normans, it became the single most popular personal name in England and remained so until it was superseded by John. It gave rise to a host of surnames including Williamson and Williams but by far the most common was Williams. It is currently the third most numerous name in England, the first being Smith and the second, Jones. In Wales William was made Gwilym, which became the surname Gwilliams and Then Williams.
Williams was never common in Scotland which retained the longer Williamson. This was very common in the Lowlands. The Highland name MacWilliam was also anglicised as Williamson (see MacWilliams). There were MacWilliams or Williamsons, a sept of Clan Gunn, who descended from a later chief of the clan called William. There were also Williamsons in Caithness, a sept of Clan Mackay.
Charles Williams, 1838-1904, the war correspondent, was born at Coleraine, Co. Derry. As a reporter for the Evening Standard and the Daily Chronicle, he covered almost every war in Europe and Africa in a thirty-year period, from the Franco-German War in 1870 to the recapture of Khartoum in 1898. He also founded the Press Club.