Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Category: 2 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is well under way, but currently in some countries only.
Contact: Mr Michael Everett
I found myself one sunny summer's day on a holiday in Scotland around 1990 looking over the foundations of an old ruined croft. It was on a hillside of woodland in perfect scenery in rural Aberdeenshire. I had given my aunt a lift in the car to help her family history research.
I was enjoying the scenery and sunshine and the amazing atmosphere of the place, but I was also, to say the least, somewhat unaware of the background to the visit.
Looking into the information she had collected even then however, I saw there was a history stretching back well over 300 years in one community alone. Living alongside our family line in the small community and farther afield it was clear there were many more family links, some obvious and some more obscure. There were also links to people around the world dating back centuries too.
Picking up the study and clarifying the work with the benefit of new technologies, the extent of the links and the different lives many of these families had, stretches far beyond what I had imagined.
The research from this study is published and being developed on the following website:-
Three main aspects are being pursued there. Firstly our own family history and links with others, secondly the Esson name and families in general, and lastly aspects of history which have influenced these peoples' lives in history.
Origins, variants and distribution of the Esson name
A detailed discussion of the origins of the name and its many variants is given on the web site mentioned above. In short its primary origin is believed to be the name Ayson or Aysoune which arose in Perthshire in the 1300's. Transformation towards other spellings is readily visible. In Aberdeenshire, indeed in just one generation of our family you can see the name written as Aesson, Easson, Esson and in one case Asson, a form used in a marriage record from just after the battle of Culloden in 1746.
There are many well known variants of the name in history including:- Ayson, Aysoune, Eason, Easson, Esson, Yson etc. etc.. Some of these are still common, some are rarely seen today, Esson seems to be one of the commonest forms.
I am interested in any of these variants as they are obviously often associated. That said, in 'one-name-study terms' I restrict myself to Esson and leave others to look into their own surname of choice. There seems to be more than enough work in one name alone.
In that respect Mrs Sue McLachlan is conducting a study into the name Eason here. Her work is worth mentioning and looking up.
Geographically the surname Esson is now spread far and wide, from Scotland and England to Ireland and Wales. It extended especially to Britain's one time colonies, Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand as large scale emigrations took place. Other countries also have populations which deserve research. Back in Britain, there seem to be significant concentrations in some places which deserve particular research, such as The Orkneys and Cornwall.
As mentioned the name goes back very visibly to the 1500 and 1600's in places, but further still to the 1300's in its believed origins.
Progress to date
A good deal of work has gone into the study over many years which continues. There are a small number of interesting related and unrelated family lines we know of which extend to Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand, But realistically speaking the study is still scarcely scratching the surface on a global scale.
That said, a good deal of information already gathered has still to be added to the internet. It seems important it is comprehensive, accessible and accurate so it seems to take time. Amongst other things I have a fairly comprehensive list of about 1600 names from the years before 1850 in Aberdeenshire. This I am slowly working through trying to establish connections.
Given the history can take the study off-piste at times it's maybe a deeper rather than a quicker study, although as the core become more complete it should be possible to add more links and volume of data after that more easily. Hopefully.
I am always delighted to hear from people interested in the name or its variants and any relevant history, and to answer questions, offer help or put people in touch where I can. Questions, feedback and information shared are always welcome.
Sources and methods used
Most of the more obvious sources of documentation have been used, including Scotland's People, NLS maps and documents such as tax records, the 1696 poll list, Ancestry, newspapers, legal records, business gazettes and historical documents and some very old books at times etc. etc.. So far genetic studies have not been included, but could well be before long.
As a matter of personal preference, I make a point of stopping short with details of people born after around 1930 normally as it seems to me there could be matters of privacy and even security involved with names, dates of birth etc. Plus if anyone wants to close the gap to the present day it is not hard.
Good luck with your research.
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