Crest The Elson Family
in South Australia

The Name

The name Elson is believed to date from the twelfth century in England. It seems to have been brought back from the crusades, since it is a combination of the Arabic word El for God and the English word son. The name means son of God.

Historical records indicate that those using the name originally were centred in West Sussex around the cathedral city of Chichester. There is, in fact, a village called Elson in Hartfordshire.

The Elsons are now found all over England and it's not surprising, therefore, that William Elson's family had settled near Manchester, since that was and, still is, a major centre in England..

The Coat of Arms

The coat of arms is argent or silver with a blue or azure chief with a red or gules eagle displayed full frontal with head turned to the dexter, legs and wings spread

The crest is a plain steel knight's helmet with the visor closed. Placed on the helm is a crest consisting of a demi eagle displayed argent, billette sable beaked or or gold. Some authorities, however, say the crest should be a golden lion holding a a silver star.

The motto is "spem seqimur" which is Latin for "we follow hope".

Elson, Hampshire

In spite of the fact that the village has now almost been swallowed up by Gosport, at the turn of the 20th century, and even up to the Second World War, it was still a truly rural community. Somehow, in spite of all the new housing covering its once green fields and woods, the village atmosphere still survives.

Elson's history goes back to a time before either Gosport or Portsmouth had been founded, for it was mentioned in a Royal Saxon Charter of Alverstoke, dated AD 948. The boundaries are carefully decribed and at one point they run along 'the meadows of the people of Aethelswithetun', which was later corrupted to Elston, and finally to Elson. It means 'Ethelswith's town'. King Alfred is believed to have granted this peaceful little retreat on the western shore of Portsmouth harbour as a gift to either his mother or his wife or his daughter, all of whom were called Ethelswith!

Elson remained the only settlement between the harbour entrance and Fareham until the 12th century, when the Norman Prior of St Swithun's built the Priory Home Farm at Hardway, with a tide-mill across the creek at Forton. There was also a jetty, and wharfs convenient for transporting goods and passengers to and from Normandy. This was called Pope's Walk until it fell into the sea at the beginning of the 20th century!

Then, as now, the shortest route to Normandy was from Portsmouth Harbour. King Stephen's brother, Bishop of Winchester, Henry de Blois, having been rescued from shipwreck in the Solent by local fishermen, granted privileges of markets and fairs to 'Godsport' as he called the tiny peninsula near the harbour entrance. By a charter of 1204, Bishop Godfrey de Lucy endowed Winchester Cathedral with 'all the trading profits which can reasonably be derived from the village newly built upon the harbour in the manor of Alverstoke'. Thanks to Bishops Henry and Godfrey, nearly 800 years later the town of Gosport has managed to swallow up not only ancient Elson and Hardway, but also the villages of Alverstoke, Forton, Brockhurst, Rowner and Lee-on-the-Solent too.

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