Nason Family Origin

The Nason Family first appeared on record in the 1500s in the county of Warwickshire in the West Midlands of England. Many Nason families were found in the Stratford-Upon-Avon and Charlecote areas.

Where did the Nasons originate?  Mostly likely somewhere on the European continent, but Ireland is also a long-shot candidate.


Nason may have a Norwegian origin—Nass. Vikings from Norway attacked and ultimately settled in Normandy beginning in the 9th century. A Durand de Nason or Durand de Naso from Normandy, France went to England in 1198 A.D. At that time King Richard I of England was fighting King Phillip II of France. Richard’s brother, the future King John, captured a party of 18 French knights and many French men-at-arms. Perhaps Nason was in that group. The name supposedly meant “nose.”  This could reference a coastal promontory where the family came from, or someone’s nose. The Scandinavian heritage is echoed by a 1912 pamphlet by Howard Nason, who wrote that the English Nason name came through Normandy from Jutland in present day Denmark. Some writers referred to the Norman Vikings as “Danes.”

I found the reference to Durand de Nason in The Nason Family and the Descendants of Elisha Nason III by Harry Baxter Nason, published in 1910.  Nason writes: “In an old and musty volume published early in the eighteenth century, a book accidentally found in the old Mercantile Library of Philadelphia. The entry read thus…”Ness, of Norway—from the fief of Nass—Naze—Normandy—Durand de Nason—1198.  It is possible that the first Nason arrived in 1066 with William the Conqueror since the name appears on one of the Battle Abbey Rolls. But Harry Nason didn’t agree: “after years of investigation I do not believe that a Nason really came over with ruffianly horde…” Nason believed the first Nason arrived in England within a century of the Norman conquest and were of Scandinavian origin.

Italian-Dutch Connection

A second origin story has the Nasons living in Venice, Italy in the 14th century. They were reported to have arrived there a century before. The Nasons owned a glass-making workshop on Murano Island. Michaelangelo painted a “Naason” lunette in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel in 1508-12. These blond figures may be our distant ancestors. Nasons may have donated or made the stained glass windows in the chapel. The Nasons left Italy in the 14th century for Holland, after which some of their descendants went to England.  “Nasoni” means “large nose” in Italian. 


In 1946, Dr. George F. Black published The Surnames of Scotland, Their Origin, Meaning and History.  Nason/MacNaos/MacNeece/MacNeish derives from Naoise, the nephew of King Concobar mac Nessa of Ulster. Naoise, or Naisi, was the lover of Deidre, a beautiful and tragic heroine in Irish legend. Their story can be found in the epic, Tain Bo Cuailnge, part of the Ulster Cycle of pre-Christian legends of famous warriors and heros. 

These origin tales are fascinating, and any one or parts of one could be true.  Since the Nasons seemed to suddenly appear in the Midlands, I’m inclined to favor the Italian origin.  I also love stained glass!  What’s more likely is the Nasons started out as viking raiders, then landowners, in Normandy; and through association with the reigning ducal family—Richard, William and then Robert Curthose–ended up in England.





  • I found this very interesting! My great grandfather was a Nason from a line we can trace to the Kittery area of the then Massachusetts Colony in the mid-1600’s and it seems that line is assumed to go back to the Stratford-Upon-Avon area of England, as spoken of in your information.

    What I found fascinating about article is the Scandanavian connection. Members of my family, including myself, have a fair bit of DNA from Denmark, Sweden and Norway and had no idea where it came from. This may have solved a bit of our puzzle. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • I’ve just found this, incredibly interesting to read…from a Nason in Warwickshire. We’re still here 🙂

      The Nasons in Warwickshire have a high percentage of Scandinavian dna

      • Hi Laura, thank you so much for writing! It was good to hear from you. Where do you think we got our Scandinavian ancestors? The Vikings in Mercia, the Normans, or something else?

By Karen