I am a descendant of a William Alison who died in 1816, although I do not know exactly when and where. He is reported to have married Emelia Bell (1770-1838). The research was done by my aunt, now deceased.
The following was written by my great grandfather's youngest brother, Walter Alison Phillips, to my grandmother in 1940:
"Alison is a girl's name in Scotland; but it is also the surname of an old Lowland family whose pedigree, I was told by our cousin John Alison, goes back to the 11th century (which I don't take as gospel truth!). The Alisons were landed gentry, but were also connected with the civic life of Dundee, of which in the middle of the eighteenth century one William Alison was mayor.He was a Whig, a loyal supporter of the House of Hanover, and distinguished himself by successfully defending Dundee against the Young Pretender in the rebellion of ‘45.
"His grandson (another William I think), who had an estate near Dundee, was indiscreet enough to enter into a sleeping partnership with a business man in the city. In those days there was no limited liability. His partner peculated, fled the country, and left Alison burdened with the task of making good his defalcations.His whole fortune did not suffice for this and, as the law provided in those days, he was arrested for debt and clapped into the Fleet prison in London. If you have read "The Pickwick Papers" you will realize what life in the Fleet prison meant!In this ghastly hole he was accompanied, or perhaps only visited, by his two daughters, Jane and Margaret Alison.His legal adviser was a young lawyer named John Atkins (my maternal grandfather), who fell in love with Jane and was accepted. The wedding was celebrated from the Fleet prison. Dickens' description of life in that inferno of hope abandoned helps one to form some sort of picture of what a wedding there was like! The younger daughter also married - a Mr. Little.I knew her as “Aunt Little." She lived with the Barry's at Lewisham - then on the very edge of London, and died, in her 99th year, in 1882, the year I went up to Oxford.
"She had some wonderful memories, and I greatly regret that I did not pump her for more information than she vouchsafed. As a child she had been a playmate of the Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV, who would have been Queen of England but for here premature death. She remembered King George III trotting round the room with her on one shoulder and the Princess on the other - a pleasing picture of that most domesticated and popular of British monarchs.
"Well, that is how the name Alison got into the family. I was the first, I believe, to have it bestowed upon me, my "Walter” being derived from my godfather Walter von Goethe, grandson of the great poet.From me the name Alison went to my godson Edwin.Then there was – until recently alas! – Margaret Alison Atkins; and there is still Alison Ramsay Atkins, in whose case the name is used simply as a Christian name.The name Ramsay also records another Scots connexion, but how I do not know, except that the late George Alison's wife was Nee Ramsay."
I do not know how much of this is accurate, but Alison has been a family name for several generations. If any of this information sounds familiar, we'd like to know.
I am also curious why Jane Alison Atkins is also referred to as Jane "Shippard." We are uncertain whether this is a middle name or where it came from. Or do we have her mixed up with another Jane?