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The Avison name



Some surnames have more obvious origins than others. The meaning of Avison would have been obvious to the mediaeval ear, but less so in the modern world.

Avison falls into a category of surnames known as matronyms (or metronyms). These are similar to the more common patronyms like Johnson or Williams, which derive from the name of a child's father, but with matronyms, the mother's name is referenced. This might indicate that the father's name was foreign or otherwise unsuitable for use, that the mother was particularly well-known, or that the child was born out of wedlock or after the father had died.

Some examples of other matronyms are:

  • Emmett, from Emma
  • Ibbett, from Ibb (a variant of Isabel)
  • Marriott, from Mary (and therefore also Marritt, which by coincidence is another of the author's family names)
  • Mawson, from Maud
  • Megson, from Meg (a pet form of Margaret)

So, Avison means "son of Avice". Avice is a feminine name which has fallen out of favour, but which was in common use in the 13th and 14th centuries. The same name is responsible for the surname Avis (well known because of the car rental company founded by Warren Avis).


It can be irritating to hear your name mispronounced, and since the root name "Avice" is no longer commonly heard, a lot of people struggle to get "Avison" correct. The IPA notation for the pronunciation of Avison is:


  • ˈ means the stress is here on the first syllable
  • as is face
  • v as in have
  • ɨ as in roses
  • s as in sigh
  • ə as in comma
  • n as in can

Alternative spellings

Here are some of the more common spelling variants of Avison. These are all much rarer than Avison, and more commonly used in the past. Some individuals used multiple spellings at different times in their lives.

  • Aveson
  • Avyson
  • Avisson


Avison is a Yorkshire name, focused in the West Riding, and the Wakefield - Dewsbury - Huddersfield area in particular (although the author's ancestors are from a York offshoot). In fact, it is a textbook case of a surname distribution suggesting a single-family origin - by contrast, many other surnames were independently started many times over (an obvious example being Smith). So this means that any two people called Avison are probably related, however distantly!

The earliest known occurrence of the name is a John Auisson in the poll tax return for Methley in 1379.



  • Family Names and Family History (David Hey, 2000)
  • Yorkshire Surnames Series Part Two: Huddersfield and District (George Redmonds, 1992)
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