Williamson ( also Williams)


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 Welsh origin.

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into Britain by the Normans, it became the single most popular personal name in England and remained so until it was superseded by John.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.

GLOSSARY

Clan From the Gaelic clann which means literally 'children'.
Mac- From the Gaelic mac, meaning 'son'
O' From the Gaelic , meaning 'grandson', 'grandchild' or 'descendant'; N is the femine form of , meaning 'daughter' or 'descendant'
Plantation (Ulster) The redistribution of escheated lands after the defeat of the Ulster Gaelic lords and the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607.  Only counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Armagh, Fermanagh and Cavan were actually 'planted', portions of land there being distributed to English and Scottish families on their lands and for the building of bawns.
Sept A family group of shared ancestry living in the same locality
Undertakers Powerful English or Scottish landowners who undertook the plantation of British settlers on the lands they were granted.
Gaelic This word in Ireland has no relation to Scotland.  As a noun it is used to denote the Irish language, as an adjective to denote native Irish as opposed to Norman or English origin.
Erenagh From the Irish Gaelic airchinneach, meaning 'hereditary steward of church lands'.  A family would hold the ecclesiastical office and the right to the church or monastery lands, the incumbent at any one time being the erenagh.