Recorded as Paulson, Polson, Poulson, Poulsom, Poulston, and others, this is a medieval English patronymic surname of ancient biblical origins. Derived from the Ancient Greek personal name Paulus meaning 'small Paul' but literally the son of Paul, the surname was first recorded in England in the 13th century as shown below. Between the 11th and 13th centuries the Knight Templars of St John, who had branches in every European country, and otherwise known as the Crusaders, lead a number of expeditions to try to free the Holy Land and specficially the city of Jerusalem from the Muslim grip. All failed, but one of the results was the introduction into Europe of what became known as Christian names, and these in turn rapidly developed into popular surnames. This name was also popularised by a number of saints called Paul, including Paul of Tarsus, Paul of Thebes, and Paulinus of Aquileia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Haldanus Paulus, which was dated 1182, in the Pipe Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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.

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