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About the study
Records show that in certain areas the name Godson has become confused with similar names.
* In south Lincolnshire Godsons became Godsaws and Godshaws in the 17th century then reverted to using Godson.
* In County Cork, Ireland there has been confusion with Godsil, Godsell etc.
* In Birmingham the Godso family has been recorded as Godson.
* In Suffolk there is confusion with Gotson and Goatson.
* The frequency of the surname Goodson is highest in Norfolk so Godsons found in Norfolk records are probably mis-spelt Goodsons. The earliest records for the Godsons from around Brailes in Warwickshire get mixed up with Goodsons, nearby Oxfordshire being another county where Goodsons are found.
* DNA testing has suggested a possible link with the surname Godsey.
* Many black Gadsons live in the southern states of the USA. This may be a variant of the African name translated as Godson or, perhaps more likely, a variant of Gadsden, an eminent white family of Charleston, South Carolina.
See Newsletter No 29.1 for more information, using the link below.
The religious connotations of the name may explain why there is a higher proportion of Goodsons to Godsons in the USA. See Newsletter No 31.7, again, see the link below
Early Godsons are found throughout England but some may not have had hereditary surnames, the surnames of others may have evolved into different names and some families have died out or moved away. For example, Lancashire Godsons did not survive into the 17th century, Hampshire Godsons into the 18th century nor Coventry or London Godsons into the 21st century.
The surname has been used by Jewish families from Eastern Europe who have anglicised their names either from Goldstein which is similar or from something completely different.
Godson is used as a forename and surname throughout Africa as a translation of a native name. In the Nigerian Ibo language the original is Nwachuku or Nwachukwu. Creating family trees for these Godsons is almost impossible and I should like to know more about whether African surnames are inherited.
Historical occurrences of the name
* Sir Richard Godson, vicar choral and sub-treasurer of York Minster, buried there in 1516 (York family)
* Brian Godson, the last prior of Blackfriars Monastery in York at the time of the Reformation, died in 1541 (York family)
* James Godson (c1563-1634), Sheriff of York in 1609 (York family)
* Richard Godson (1797-1849), QC and MP for St Albans and Kidderminster (Brailes family)
* Sir Augustus Frederick Godson (1835-1906), also MP for Kidderminster (Brailes family)
* Dr Clement Godson (1845-1913), an eminent Victorian gynaecologist (Heckington family)
* John Barclay Godson (1882-1957), artist and creator of bookplates (Beverley family)