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last names from the 1600s

last names from the 1600s

Last names from the 1600s

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last names from the 1600s
last names from the 1600s

Surname

In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one’s personal name that indicates one’s family, tribe or community.

Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at either the start of a person’s full name, as the forename, or at the end; the number of surnames given to an individual also varies. As the surname indicates genetic inheritance, all members of a family unit may have identical surnames or there may be variations; for example, a woman might marry and have a child, but later remarry and have another child by a different father, and as such both children could have different surnames. It is common to see two or more words in a surname, such as in compound surnames. Compound surnames can be composed of separate names, such as in traditional Spanish culture, they can be hyphenated together, or may contain prefixes.

Using names has been documented in even the oldest historical records. Examples of surnames are documented in the 11th century by the barons in England. English surnames began as a way of identifying a certain aspect of that individual, such as by trade, father’s name, location of birth, or physical features, and were not necessarily inherited. By 1400 most English families, and those from Lowland Scotland, had adopted the use of hereditary surnames.

 

Definition of a surname

In the Anglophonic world, a surname is commonly referred to as the last name because it is usually placed at the end of a person’s full name, after any given name. Around the Asia and in some parts of Europe and Africa, the family name is placed before a person’s given name. In most Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries, two surnames are commonly used or, in some families, three or even more, often because of family claims to nobility.

last names from the 1600s
last names from the 1600s

Surnames have not always existed and are still not universal in some cultures. The tradition has arisen separately in different cultures around the world. In Europe, the concept of surnames became popular in the Roman Empire and expanded throughout the Mediterranean and Western Europe as a result. During the Middle Ages, that practice died out as Germanic, Persian and other influences took hold. During the late Middle Ages surnames gradually re-emerged, first in the form of bynames, which typically indicated an individual’s occupation or area of residence, and gradually evolving into modern surnames. In China surnames have been the norm since at least the 2nd century BC.

last names from the 1600s
last names from the 1600s

A family name is typically a part of a person’s personal name and, according to law or custom, is passed or given to children from at least one of their parents’ family names. The use of family names is common in most cultures around the world, but each culture has its own rules as to how the names are formed, passed, and used. However, the style of having both a family name (surname) and a given name (forename) is far from universal (see History below). In many cultures, it is common for people to have one name or mononym, with some cultures not using family names. In most Slavic countries and in Greece, Lithuania and Latvia, for example, there are different family name forms for male and female members of the family. Issues of family name arise especially on the passing of a name to a newborn child, the adoption of a common family name on marriage, the renunciation of a family name, and the changing of a family name.

English Last Names

It wasn’t until after the Norman Conquest in 1066 that the English began to use last names. But by the 15th century, nearly every family had one. English last names come from a variety of sources, including places, nicknames, estate names, occupations and physical attributes. Today, there are about 45,000 English last names.

Most Popular English Last Names Or Surnames

The evolution of British surnames started with their first names being used as family names. These family names were adopted from conquests, immigrants, occupations, places, and other sources. Although most of these last names have been derived from their patronymic names, some have also originated from topographical or habitational names. An interesting point to note is that these surnames have a distinct history attached to them, with references spanning Scotland, Wales, and various other regions of the United Kingdom. Read on to know more about such unique British last names, their origin, history, meaning, and many other interesting facts.

1.Adams

It is derived from Adam, which means a ‘Man’ in Hebrew. The origins of this last name date back to the pre-medieval period. In the Old Testament, Adam is also referred to as ‘the earth’ from where God created the man.

2. Allen

Derived from ‘Alan’ this last name was first used somewhere in the 6th Century. It means a ‘Rock’. This was the name of several dukes of Brittany and many Breton settlers, who immigrated to England.

3. Barker

Barker is a spelling variant of Berker, an occupational name which refers to a ‘Tanner of leather’. The first reference of this last name goes back to the pre 7th Century by the Olde English men.

4. Barnes

This topographic name or a metonymic occupational name belongs to the Middle English period and is referred to as ‘Someone who lived by a Barn’ or ‘Worked at a barn’.

5. Collins

Originated in Britain and Ireland, Collins refers to ‘son of Colin’ and the Irish variation ‘cuilein’ that means ‘darling’.

6. Cooper

Bradley Cooper, the world-renowned actor, is a bearer of this last name. This occupational last name refers to ‘Maker’ or ‘Repairer’ of wooden vessels.

7. Ford

The habitational surname referred to people who lived near a ford. Another variation is the Irish surname O Fuartháin, which refers to ‘descendant of O Fuarthán’. Harrison Ford is a famous bearer of this surname.

8. Foster

Foster is derived from Fostre, Forstrian or Forster, which refers to ‘nourish’ or ‘rear’.

9. King

In Old English, this last name referred to tribal leaders. It was also referred to someone who served in a Royal household. King has origins in the regions of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

10. Knight

The origins of Knight date back to the Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It is derived from the Old English word ‘Cniht’ that refers to ‘Servant’ or a ‘Common soldier’.

11. Lawrence

Lawrence has its origins in English, Italian, and French. The habitational last name refers to ‘Someone from Laurentium’ a town near Italy.

12. Lee

Lee, derived from the Old English period, is a variant of Lea, Leah or Leigh that refers to a ‘Meadow’ or ‘Forest’.

13. Lewis

Lewis originated in England and Wales. This last name has several variants such as Lewes, Louis, or Luis. It means ‘Winner’ or ‘Victor’.

14. Lloyd

It belongs to both Old Welsh and Medieval English origins and is derived from the pre 7th Century term Llwyd meaning ‘Grey’.

15. Morgan

Morgan has Celtic roots and belongs to ‘Britons of Wales’. The name is derived from the term ‘Morcant’ which refers to ‘Sea circle’. Television personality Piers Morgan is a noteworthy bearer of this last name.

16. Morris

A very popular last name in the British Isles, Morris is derived from Maurice or Maurus which means ‘Dark’ or ‘Swarthy’.

17. Palmer

The surname Palmer has originated from the Old French word Palmer, derived from the Latin term ‘Palmifer’ meaning ‘Palm bearer’. The original bearer of the surname was a pilgrim who carried palm branches back from the Holy Land.

18. Parker

It is an Old English occupational last name, which refers to the ‘Keeper of the park’.

19. Phillips

It belongs to the early Medieval English era. Phillips is derived from Philein, which refers to ‘A lover for horses’.

20. Russell

One of the most famous last names in British history, Russell was brought into the country by Normans. This patronymic name refers to ‘Son of Red’ or in French variation it refers to ‘Little Red-haired’.

21. Scott

Originated during the Medieval English era, Scott refers to people who belonged to Scotland. Scott is derived from the pre 7th Century word ‘Scotti’.

22. Smith

Originated in England, Smith is derived from the word Smitan, which means ‘To smite’.

23. West

West is a topographical last name that refers to ‘Someone who lived by the west of a settlement’. This surname originated from English and German regions.

24. White

This surname is of Irish origin and belongs to the Isle of Wight, near Hampshire, England. Thus, it is a topographical last name.

25. Williams

This is a common Welsh last name and is derived from the Belgic term ‘Guild-helm’ that refers to ‘Harnessed with a gilded helmet’ or ‘The shield or defense of many’.

last names from the 1600s
last names from the 1600s

conclusion

Last names, too, evolve with time, slang, and usage. An interesting fact about the British surnames was seen during the 19th Century, when migrants from Eastern parts of Europe, anglicized their names and created new surnames.

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