Monday, September 1, 2014

The 7 English Surnames

Though it turns out that it is really just a sophisticated advertisement for Ancestory.com, this explanation of the seven sources for English surnames is absolutely fascinating.  Here's an excerpt:
Many of us have surnames passed down to us from ancestors in England. Last names weren’t widely used until after the Norman conquest in 1066, but as the country’s population grew, people found it necessary to be more specific when they were talking about somebody else. Thus arose descriptions like Thomas the Baker, Norman son of Richard, Henry the Whitehead, Elizabeth of the Field, and Joan of York that, ultimately, led to many of our current surnames.
There are perhaps 45,000 different English surnames, but most had their origins as one of these seven types.
Occupational
Occupational names identified people based on their job or position in society. Calling a man “Thomas Carpenter” indicated that he worked with wood for a living, while someone named Knight bore a sword. Other occupational names include Archer, Baker, Brewer, Butcher, Carter, Clark, Cooper, Cook, Dyer, Farmer, Faulkner, Fisher, Fuller, Gardener, Glover, Head, Hunt or Hunter, Judge, Mason, Page, Parker, Potter, Sawyer, Slater, Smith, Taylor, Thatcher, Turner, Weaver, Woodman, and Wright (or variations such as Cartwright and Wainwright) — and there are many more.
Follow the link above to read the other six sources and, perhaps, gain some insight as to the origin of your own surname!