Thursday, 16 October 2014

What Your Surname Means

The last time England was conquered was in 1066 by a Frenchman called William who took the throne and set about introducing fundamental changes, one of which was the use of surnames.
Back then you were called Elizabeth or Bill or Ted but as the country’s population grew, people found it necessary to be more specific when they were talking about somebody else so the surname was born and it was based on one of 7 types, occupation, a personal characteristic, a place, an estate, geographical feature, parents or patrons name.
There are as many as 45,000 different English surnames according to the ancestry website and it explains that if your surname is something like Carter, Cooper, Baker, Clark, Smith, Wright or Cook, your surname line began with someone in that occupation. If your surname is Walker or Fuller, you might want to hide the occupation of what a 'Walker' or 'Fuller' was back then but it involved wool, a large vat of stale urine and a pair of poor plebs feet for stomping.
Surnames such as Short, Little or Swift described your ancestors most noticeable characteristic at the time of the surname choosing and anyone with a English place name was where the ancestor lived or worked.
Some, such as Windsor or Staunton, took the name of the estate they lived or worked on or even owned and those with a geographical name descended from people who lived on, in or close to a geographical feature. Woods lived in or by the Woods, Bush in or by a particularly noticeable Bush and Bridge either next to or even under a Bridge.
Parents names were common with names ending in -son, literally meaning son of so Jackson was son of Jack, Richardson was son of Richard and daughter of incorporated the mothers Christian name so Marriot daughter of Mary.
The seventh category is the patrons name and usually ended in man so Hickman and Hoffman literally means Hick's man and Hoff's man with Hicks and Hoff being the Patron.
All very interesting unless your surname is Walker because nobody wants to find out that their family derived from people who spent the workday ankle deep in other peoples urine and face a lifetime of being called 'Pissy Feet' if everyone knew about it's origins.

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