Kerrison family crestKerrison is the maiden name of one of our maternal great-grandmothers, Harriet Kerrison (1867-1927) who married Charles Phillips in 1893. The sequence of surnames in the three generations between us goes Kerrison-Phillips-Rogers-Dwyer.

There are a number of different views on the origin of the surname Kerrison. One has it deriving from the first name Garrison (Gerard) which arrived in England after the Norman Conquest.1 Another has it deriving from the parish of Kerdiston, just north of Reepham in Norfolk, with the first de Kerdistons being documented in the mid-13th century.2

Our Kerrisons, who are known back to the 17th century, lived in or around Wymondham in Norfolk. Wymondham is a market town about 15 kilometers southwest of Norwich on the road to London, 164 kilometers away. Its first market charter was granted by King John in 1204. It is most famous for being the home of Robert Kett, who led a peasants’ and small farmers’ rebellion in Norwich in 1549, and for a fire that destroyed much of the town in 1615.3

Wymondham is one of the few places in England where a census record prior to 1801 exists. In 1747 the Parish of Wymondham had 686 families and a population of 3,213. The occupation of the head of each of the families was also recorded in the census:

Gentlemen farmers & Others 120
Husbandmen or Labourers 130
Weavers 155
Ale house keepers 39
All other Trades, Businesses, Employments, & Poor 242


By 1811 the population had risen to 3,923 (1,896 males and 2,027 females) in 767 families and residing in 734 houses (an average of 5.3 persons in each house); 291 families were occupied in agriculture, 440 in a trade and 36 in “other”.




3 Those held responsible for setting the fire were hanged the same year.


Origins of the Kerrison name


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