Explore the Family Name Wilson

The meaning of Wilson

English: from the Middle English personal name Will + patronymic -son ‘son of Will’. Will was a very common medieval short form of William. This surname is also very common among African Americans.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Wilson in the United States?

The surname Wilson, based on data from the Decennial U.S. Census, has seen a fluctuation in popularity over a decade. In 2000, it was ranked as the 10th most common surname, but by 2010, its rank had slipped to 14th, marking a decrease of 40%. Despite this drop in ranking, the actual number of people with the surname increased by 2.4% from 783,051 in 2000 to 801,882 in 2010. However, when considering the proportion of people named Wilson per 100,000 individuals, there was a decrease of 6.35% between 2000 and 2010.

Proportion per 100k290.27271.84-6.35%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Wilson

On the subject of ethnicity, the surname Wilson, according to the Decennial U.S. Census data, is predominantly associated with individuals of White ethnic identity, making up approximately 67.36% in 2010, down from 69.72% in 2000. The second largest ethnic group carrying the surname are Blacks, which constituted 25.99% in 2010, slightly up from 25.32% in 2000. Hispanic representation among the Wilsons also saw an increase from 1.73% in 2000 to 2.61% in 2010, showing the greatest percent change among the groups at 50.87%. The percentage of Wilsons of Asian/Pacific Islander origin also rose from 0.46% to 0.60%. Individuals of American Indian and Alaskan Native heritage made up around 1.06% in 2010, marginally higher than the 1.03% in 2000. Meanwhile, those identifying as Two or more races went from 1.74% in 2000 to 2.38% in 2010.

Two or More Races1.74%2.38%36.78%
American Indian and Alaskan Native1.03%1.06%2.91%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.46%0.6%30.43%

Wilson ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Wilson is British & Irish, which comprises 53.5% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (22.0%) and Scandinavian (3.5%). Additional ancestries include Nigerian, Eastern European, Italian, Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean, and Spanish & Portuguese.

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British & Irish53.5%
French & German22.0%

Possible origins of the surname Wilson

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Wilson have recent ancestry locations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom86.50%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom86.40%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom86.30%
Merseyside, United Kingdom86.10%
West Midlands, United Kingdom86.00%

What Wilson haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Wilson is R-CTS241, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-CTS241 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-P311 and R-L21, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Smith, Thompson, Taylor, Brown, White, Clark, Young, Hill, Green, Walker.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Wilson surname are: H1, T2b, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

wilsonPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Wilson have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Wilson" Surname 42.4%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Wilson" Surname 28.3%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Wilson" Surname 23.1%

23andMe Users 21.1%



Cat Allergy

An allergic reaction to cats, characterized by symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and difficulty breathing.

"Wilson" Surname 36.1%

23andMe Users 36.7%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Wilson?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Wilson are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%