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The Watson Name

The Watson Name

First, let’s talk about the Watson name, how that came to be. It is said that the name Watson is of English and Scottish origin. It is a patronymic surname derived from the father’s side meaning “son of “Watt”. It is assumed that when Europeans came to the new world, America, so came some immigrant named Watson. It is also assumed that there were slave owners/masters named Watson too. Slaves usual adopted the last name of their owners/masters.

Watson is the 20th most common surname in Scotland, meaning the son of Wat, an early nickname for Walter. Among the earliest emigrants to the Virginia Colony from England was John Watson in 1635. Later noted bearers of the surname include Alexander Graham Bell's telephone experiment partner Thomas A. Watson ("Mr. Watson--come here!"), James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, and actress Emily. Two well known Watsons in fiction are Sherlock Holmes's accomplice, Dr (John) Watson, and Spider-Man's love interest, Mary Jane. All in all: a name with a varied and fascinating heritage.

Watson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Origins is English and Scottish. Watson is an ancient Anglo-Saxon name that is derived from Wat, which is a diminutive form of Walter. This Old German name, which literally means mighty army, was introduced into England during the reign of Edward the Confessor and became one of the most popular personal names in that country following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The surname also features the suffix -son, which superseded other patronymic suffixes in popularity during the 14th century and was most popular in the north of England.

Early Origins of the Watson family

The surname Watson was first found in the county of Rutland, where they were Lords of the manor of Rockingham, from ancient times. This was home to "a castle was erected by William I., on the summit of a hill, for the protection of the extensive iron-works at that time carried on in the adjacent woodlands. During the war in the reign of Charles I., the castle was garrisoned for the king by Sir Lewis Watson, afterwards created Lord Rockingham, and was besieged by the parliamentarian forces, who at the same time destroyed the tower and part of the nave of the church: the only remains of the castle are the two massive bastions that defended the entrance gateway."

The Watson Motto

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.
Motto: Mea gloria fides
Motto Translation: Fidelity is my glory.

Watson Coat of Arms

Two prominent symbols in the Watson Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Watson Family Crest) are the marlet and crescent.

For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose, and the crescent Is a typical example of this, and can appear in any of the main heraldic tinctures. Some common is this device that there are special names for its appearance in various orientations – whilst it lies normally with points upward, the decrescent points to the sinister side, and the increscent to the dexter. The allusion, obviously is to the shape of the moon in the sky (indeed, the French have a version “figuré” which includes a face!) and has been said to signify both “honour by the sovereign” and “hope of greater glory”.

The martlett is by far the most common bird to appear in British Heraldry, perhaps only equalled by the eagle, however it is not a species ever to be found in an ornithologists handbook! The word itself is though to have come from the French word merlette, the female blackbird and itself a similar type of charge used in French Heraldry. Over time the image has become quite stylised, without visible legs or distinctive feathers. Wade suggests that this representation arises from “the appearance of the bird of paradise to ancient travellers”. Other bird species may be named in coats of arms (cornish chough is a frequent example) but in actual execution their appearance is often indistinguishable from the martlet.