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Family spelling variants includes Persons

PARSONS Family History


This interesting surname has two related origins, both deriving from the Old French word "persone", in Middle English (1200 - 1500) "persone" or "persoun", meaning a parson or a priest. The ultimate derivation is from the Latin word "persona", meaning "person" or "character", and it is thought that the shift in meaning from "person" to "priest" arose from the position of the local priest as the "representative" person of the parish. The surname Parsons can be an occupational name for "the parson's servant", or a patronymic form denoting the child of a parson, and it can also be a locational name, especially when found with the preposition "de" or "del" as in Ralph del Persones (1323), denoting residence at, and therefore, employment at the parson's house...


Parsons (Variants: Persons)

An English occupational name for the servant of a parish priest or parson, denoting the child of a parson, from Middle English persone, parsoun (see Parson). It is perhaps the same as Pearson, Pierson — ‘the son of Peter’.

In Irish, usually of English origin, occassionaly a reduced Anglicised form of Gaelic Mac an Phearsain, of Highland Scottish origin (McPherson).

Early bearers of the surname include: Gilbert ad Parsons, Stephen ad Parsons, 1297 in Earldom of Cornwall Accounts; Ralph del Persones, 1323 in Assize Rolls (Staffs); William atte Personnes, 1327 in Subsidy Rolls (Suffolk); Gilbert atte Parsones, 1332 in Subsidy Rolls (Sussex); Robertus atte Parsones, 1377 in Poll Tax (Little Baddow, Essex); Ricardo of the Parsones, 1379 in Poll Tax (Wanlip, Leics); Thoma atte Parsones, 1379 in Poll Tax (Singleton and East Dean, Sussex); Hughe Parsonnes, 1571 in PROB 11 (Whitwick, Leics); William Parsons, 1550 in PROB 11 (Cropthorn, Worcs); Robert Parsons, 1573 in PROB 11 (Long Sutton, Somerset); William Parsons, 1629 in PROB 11 (Bideford, Devon); Richard Parsons, 1616 in PROB 11 (Westmeston, Sussex); Alexander Parsons, 1698 in IGI (Leyland, Lancs).

Edward Parsons, English convict from Somerset, who was transported aboard the "Argyle" on 5 March 1831, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia.

In 1891, the surname was recorded in England and Wales with 22,989 occurrences and fewer 18 in Scotland.

In 1881, it was widespread in England and Wales, especially Somerset, Devon, Surrey and Sussex. In the Plymouth district located in Devon, there were a total 157 occurrences.

In the same census year, the most common Parsons occupation in the UK was Agricultural Labourer. 5% of Parsons's were Agricultural Labourers. A less common occupation for the Parsons family was Coal Miner. Agricultural Labourer, Farmer and Labourer were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Parsons.

Alan Parsons (b. 1948), British audio engineer, musician, and record producer, founder of the Alan Parsons Project.

Sir Charles Algernon Parsons OM, KCB, FRS (1854-1931), Irish engineer who invented the steam turbine, founder of C. A. Parsons and Company, a British engineering firm in 1889.

1881, 1891 Census

1881 Census in Devon

Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016

1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain

1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain



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    Julia Williams

    Hello.. my name is Julia and Sir William Parsons is my 12 great-grandfather.  I live in Texas and was born and rasied in Portland, Oregon. I'm very intrested and learning my about my family ancestry. ?
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    Alan Keith Parsons

    Hi my name is Alan K. Parsons and my dad's name is Barry K Parsons and was one of 7 brothers from Tazewell County west Virginia and they were coal miners.
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    My Granfather came from W Virginia in 1920-30s to Cincinnati. Lets connect
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