How Surnames Began

Strange Surnames

Surnames have been around in England for hundreds of years. At first they were specific to one individual, like a nickname. By the Middle Ages they were used more often and eventually became hereditary. That's why some folks today bear a surname that describes an occupation or trade their ancestors followed centuries ago, like Cooper or Shepherd. Other surnames came from the town where our ancestors originally lived e.g. Buxton. Many were simply father's names with 'son' tacked on, like Wil-son, John-son etc.

We tend to take our surnames for granted. But if you've got a surname like the one I was born with, which was HALL, you start to yearn for something more exotic. I've always been fascinated by surnames; how they came about, why some are more widespread than others, why some are encountered once in a blue moon and why some have disappeared altogether. There are thousands of English surnames, including SMITH, our most popular surname.

So I've started collecting them. I hope you will join in. Tell me your favourite or unusual ones. This is meant to be a celebration of English surnames, from the weird to the wonderful, from the rare to the unusual. I've listed a few for starters.

What work did your ancestor do?

Cooper - someone who made barrels

Fletcher - a man who made arrows

Mason - a man who worked with stone

Naylor - a nailmaker

Palfreyman - looked after horses

Scrivener - a man who wrote out documents

Webster - someone who wove cloth

Some Surnames derived from Herbs, Spices & Fruit

Perhaps these names were used for people who traded in, or grew, such commodities.

Apple, Garlick, Ginger, Licorish, Marjoram, Orange, Pepper, Salt, Sugar, Woodroofe.

Birds of a Feather...

There are quite a few 'bird' surnames, for example -

Bird, Crow, Dove, Eagle, Goldfinch, Jay, Parrot, Pidgeon, Sparrow, Starling, Swann

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

ALL THAT GLITTERS - is not Gold. Some sparkling English surnames -

Goldsack, Golden, Jewell, Silverstone, Diamond, Ruby, Garnett

Weather the weather be hot - there's a surname there somewhere


Frost, Snow, Fogg, Rain, Rainbird, Rainbow, Cloud, Wind

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Were They really so Good?

Goodall, Goodenough, Goodhart, Goodlucke, Goodman,

Goodner, Goodwin, Goodyear

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Surnames taken from the World of Nature - Flora, Fauna and a few Fish

Bee, Blackadder, Budd, Bugg, Bull, Bullock, Calf, Fox, Lamb, Goose & Gosling, Herring, Leafe, Rose, Salmon, Squirell, Trout, Twigge.