Select Mason Surname Genealogy

The surname Mason derives from the occupation of stonemason (the word itself coming from the Old Central French word macon or masson).  The trade was a skilled and highly regarded one in medieval England.  A mason was generally recognized as someone who had already served his time as an apprentice to a master craftsman. 

Mason craft guilds may have been the origin of the freemasonry which began in Scotland in the early 18th century, but there is no strong evidence that this was the case.

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England.  The Mason name started to appear in the 13th century and had become quite widespread by the 14th century, although with many different spellings.  Mason came to predominate.  But the Norman form of Machin persisted, notably in Gloucestershire and later in Nottinghamshire.  Machins accounted for 7% of the Masons in England by the time of the 1881 census. 

There were some early Masons in south and eastern England:  

  • a Mason family resided at Necton Hall near Swaffham in Norfolk from the late 15th to the early 20th century.  Captain Arthur Mason of this family died in tragic circumstances at Gallipoli in 1915.  
  • Sir John Mason, the Tudor diplomat, was the son of a cow-herd in Abingdon in Berkshire.  John Mason School in Abingdon was named after him.  
  • while Thomas Mason at this time was a yeoman farmer at Monkton in Kent.  He bequeathed to his son William 100 pounds with the instructions that he should educate himself.  He did so and became a lawyer and an MP in 1626.   
Generally, however, Mason developed more as a surname in the north of England. 

Anthony Mason was born at Dent in the Yorkshire Dales in 1620 and his descendants became prosperous landowners there in the 18th century.  From these roots came Miles Mason, the forebear of the famous Mason family of potters in Staffordshire. 

Hugh Mason, one of the prominent early 19th century Lancashire mill owners, was the son of a family that had moved north from Derbyshire. 

Ireland.  Christopher Mason from Sion in Middlesex arrived in Waterford in 1627 and settled there.  His grandson John was four times mayor of Waterford between 1696 and 1712.  Another line via Robert Mason came to Galway in the 1690’s.  Their home was Masonbrook.  This line became the Monck Masons and they made their mark as writers. 

The Sinclairs of Rosslyn laid claim to be the hereditary Grand Master Masons of Scotland, although Sir James of that family did resign his position there in 1736.  Masons in Scotland have sometimes been thought of as a sub-sect of the Sinclair clan.

One Mason family line has been traced back to 1750 in Troqueer parish in Ayrshire.  The Masons of Moredon in Edinburgh were granted a coat of arms in 1795.

.  The first Mason with connections to America was undoubtedly Captain John Mason, even though he never set foot in New Hampshire.  But from his land grants came the Mason claim to the state. 

New England.  Another Captain John Mason did come to Massachusetts in 1632.  He later settled in Windsor, Connecticut and served as Deputy Governor of Connecticut.  He was the forebear of a large number of Mason descendants in America, including Jeremiah Mason, the US Senator for New Hampshire, and John S. Mason, a Union general during the Civil War.  There is a statue of him on the Palisado Green in Windsor.

Sampson Mason, a Puritan caught up in the English Civil War in Lancashire made his escape to America in the late 1640’s and settled in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.  He too had many Mason descendants in America.

A notable 19th century Mason family in Massachusetts included Lowell Mason, a leading figure in American church music, and his sons Henry and William and grandson Daniel, all involved in music in different capacities.

Virginia.  George Mason, a Royalist captain, fled England after their defeat at Worcester and came to Virginia in 1652.  He was the progenitor of a powerful landowning and political family in Virginia. 
Their base was the family plantation at Chopawamsic in Stafford county. 

This line led to
great grandson George Mason - known as "Father of the Bill of Rights" and one of the "founding fathers of the United States."  His home was Gunston Hall in Virginia.  The Mason line then went via: 
  • his eldest son George who, however, died only three years after his father in 1795.   
  • his son John, the father of James Murray Mason, US Senator for Virginia from 1847 to 1861 and a fervent supporter of the South during the Civil War. 
  • and younger son Stevens, the US Senator for Virginia from 1794 to 1803.  Stevens’ two sons were also distinguished - Armistead as US Senator for Virginia (later killed in a duel) and John, an important figure in the early history of Texas.  John’s son Stevens, known as the “Boy Governor,” became Governor of Michigan in 1835 at the age of 23.  Mason county in Michigan was named after him
St. Helena.  Richard Mason arrived on the Atlantic island of St. Helena sometime in the early 1700’s.  A later Richard Mason met Captain Cook when he visited the island in 1775.  And William Mason was a British officer guarding Napoleon at St. Helena after his defeat at Waterloo in 1815.  William then migrated back and forth between St. Helena and South Africa before settling in Cape Town in the 1850’s.  The main line of descent in South Africa then was via his eldest son Edwin.  A younger son Richard died at sea in the 1860’s while en-route for Australia.

New Zealand
.  George Mason from Gloucestershire came on a whaler to Kapiti island on North Island in 1837.  He married twice in New Zealand – first to Hemi Hamaka in 1842 and then to Elizabeth Rix in 1854.  In total, there were 21 children born to these two marriages

Select Mason Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Mason Names

Sir John Mason was a  prominent diplomat and councillor for four Tudor monarchs in the 16th century.
George Mason through his drafting of the Declaration of Independence is considered one of the founding fathers of the United States.
Perry Mason was the fictional lawyer in the TV series based on the books of Erle Stanley Gardner.
James Mason was a well-known British actor of the 1940's and 1950's.
Jackie Mason, born Yacov Moshe Maza, has been an American stand-up comedian for over forty years.

Select Masons Today

  • 74,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 60,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 45,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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