- The famous biblical names Joseph, Isaac, and Abraham for example, were first introduced into Britain by the returning Crusaders and Pilgrims of the 11th century a.d. onwards. We have therefore an interesting situation in that the name is Hebrew, is from the Holy Land, but was not originally as a surname, Jewish. Persons of the Jewish faith were not allowed to settle in England on a permanent basis until the 'reign' of Oliver Cromwell, and in the year 1655, after being previously totally banned by King Edward 1st in circa 1290. They therefore played no part in the initial development of surnames which as a hereditary system was fully in place by the year 1500. The name 'Joseph' is believed to translate as 'god may add to' or similar, although the precise meaning in the ancient times was probably quite different to the academic assertions of the 20th century. Either way the name was popular in England from Norman times, 'Josephus of London' being recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book, and Joseph of Lincoln in the Danelaw Rolls of the year 1147. 'Umfridus, the son of Josep' is recorded in the Curia Regis rolls of Hertfordshire in the year 1205, and William Joseph, this being one of the first surname recordings in the year 1205 in Suffolk. The rare patronymic 'Josephson' is recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Cambridge for the year 1332 when John Josepsone is so recorded. The coat of arms granted in the former Welsh county of Breconshire has the blazon of per chevron blue and green, in chief three garbs, in base two gold chevronells. The crest is a golden garb, the motto 'cas ni charo y wlad a'i mago. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Joseph, which was dated 1191, in the pipe rolls of the county of Hampshire, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.