select surnames website
Welcome to the select surnames website.
What’s in a last name? More than you might think. Each surname carries an individual history that has been shaped by all the forebears of that name. In palmistry, the left hand usually tells you what you are born with, the right hand what you made on your life. So too with family genealogy. Word origin and DNA will provide a starting point. But the history and events over time can give these last names their distinctive characteristics and traits.
In fact each last name may have a distinct narrative that extends back through the mists of time to its early formulation. We can follow where the name came from (sometimes from more than one location) and where the name migrated to over time, as well as the many incidents and events along the way.
This site contains narratives for more than one thousand select last names in the English-speaking world. There are to be found here last names of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish origin. And the list also includes additional last names of Germanic, Dutch, French, Huguenot, Jewish, and Scandinavian origin.
Please type in here the surname/last name in which you are interested.
Alternatively, you can go through the list of all the last names we have selected (more than a thousand of them in total) by clicking onto the Select Surnames tag above.
Coverage of each last name includes:
- a discussion on the origin of the name
- the internet resources on the name available (including family histories)
- early history of the name at its origin and the main family lines in the British Isles and Europe
- migratory patterns, how and when
- the history of the name in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere
- famous bearers of the name
- numbers today in the UK, America and elsewhere
- plus a miscellany section providing stories and accounts relating to the name over the years.
Some Background on These Surnames
Surname History gives some historical background on these last names.
The Top Ten Surnames page provides a ranking by numbers of the top ten last names in different locations and groupings – in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, America – and also including separately Jewish, German, African American. and Hispanic in America – as well as the top ten last names in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
And the Top 300 Surnames page ranks the 300 most common last names over all in the English-speaking world, that is in the UK, Ireland, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These are ranked according to their approximate total family numbers there today.
We invite from our readers in our Reader Feedback section:
- any comments and suggestions on the site and on the surnames shown.
- any family histories that you might care to share.
- any additions to the internet resource listings on particular surnames.
- and any suggestions as to new surnames to be covered.
Enjoy the site!