Updated 20 February 2015
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I do not endorse either the armorial comments (this is found at http://www.wilkinsons.com/CoatofArms.html) nor the information on any of the websites given here. Some of the information has been edited by me, but my thanks belong to Florence Moore for the basis. Those who are aware of the armorial bearings will know that not everyone in a lineage is entitled to such a shield because each aspect has a specific meaning. Examples are open or shut visor, front on, side on etc. These slight differences state precisely the status of the bearer.
The WILKINSON surname is English. Some families may have gone to Ireland in the 1600’s (the Plantation Period) but they definitely went to countries outside of the UK. For those of you unfamiliar with the political upheavals of the day, the English crown was determined to make the entire country into one and began giving favours in return for settlements - especially in Ireland. Land was taken from the Northern Irish & given to supporting (of the crown) families. In turn, while many of the new owners were absentee landlords, the men (and their families) from those English and Scottish estates transferred to Northern Ireland to work those lands for their masters. The Irish made life exceedingly difficult for many - some returned to the homes within Scotland and Ireland (and Wales) and others took to the seas, often aiming for America. But this was far from the only dispersion because by the mid 17th Century in the UK, many were persecuted for their religious beliefs. Whole families were either killed or made slaves and transported to either the Caribbean or for the Virginian plantations. (The Norfolk Quakers; the English and Irish Roman Catholics; the Scottish Covenanters; the European Huguenots - who had earlier fled to Britain; the English Jews and not forgetting the Lollards who in the earlier century had come under attack).
Some of the earliest records of the name WILKINSON or forms of this name date back to around the year 1272.
Ralph WYLEKIN — County Norfolk
Amice WYLEKUN — County SussexThomas & Adam WYLKYNSON — Yorkshire Poll Tax 1379
Matilda WYLKYN — Yorkshire Poll Tax 1379
In 1607 three ships landed in Virginia. The landing place was named 'James Town'. Three hundred colonists died during the winter of 1609-1610. James WILKINSON, who was a Surgeon, was with these emigrants. He is believed to be the first WILKINSON to arrive in America. Nothing else is known about this WILKINSON. (A replica of one of these ships, a 16th Century Merchant ship "Elizabeth II" is berthed at Manteo, NC).
By 1790, which was the first United States Census, there were 144 Heads of Households with the name WILKINSON, WILKENSON & WILLKINSON and 111 Heads of Households with the name WILKERSON, WILKASON, WILKESON, & WILKISON. The average house had 5.5 people, so now you can figure out how many there are today. Most of these people lived in North Carolina and Virginia.
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