- This unusual and interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a dialectal variant of Pidgeon, which is an example of the sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or a variety of qualities, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition. In this instance, the derivation is from the Middle English "pigeon", pigeon, and the nickname may have been given to a gullible person, since the birds were easily caught. It may also have been a metonymic occupational name for a hunter of wood pigeons. Ralf Pyjun is listed in the 1268 Assize Rolls of Somerset. It has also been suggested that in some cases the surname may be from "Pet(y)jon", a nickname from the Middle English "pety", small, and the given name "John"; hence, "small John". John Petijohan is noted in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Pidgen, Pidgeon, Pidgon, Pigeon, Pideon, Pidon, Piggin(s) and Piggen(s). Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Elizabeth Piggins and John Rednoll at St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, on November 16th 1579, and the marriage of Robert Piggins and Sislie Martine on February 29th 1616, at St. Michael's, Cornhill. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Pigun, which was dated 1200, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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.