The use of last names in Britain dates back to the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror introduced the practice of using surnames to distinguish between different people with the same first name.
Over the centuries, there have been many changes in the spelling and meaning of British surnames. Some names have been lost altogether, while others have been corrupted or changed beyond recognition. Today, there are around 45,000 British surnames in use, each with its own unique history.
Some British surnames are derived from Old English personal names, while others come from place names or occupations. Many surnames were originally nicknames, which described some physical characteristic or other aspect of the person's appearance or personality.
There are several different types of British last names: patronymic (based on the father's name), matronymic (based on the mother's name), habitational (based on where the person lives), and occupational (based on what the person does for a living). A few British surnames are still in use that were first used hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Others are relatively new, having been coined in the past few centuries. Whether old or new, each British surname has its own fascinating story to tell.
Let's take a dive into the world of British family names.