select surnames website

Welcome to the select surnames website.

What’s in a 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 names their distinctive characteristics and traits.

In fact each 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 surnames in the English-speaking world.  There are to be found here names of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish origin.  And the list also includes additional names of Germanic, Dutch, French, Huguenot, Jewish, and Scandinavian origin.

Select Surnames

Please type in here the surname in which you are interested.

Alternatively, you can go through the list of all the surnames we have selected (more than a thousand of them in total) by clicking onto the Select Surnames tag above.

Coverage of each surname includes:

Some Background on These Surnames

Surname History gives some historical background on these surnames.

The Top Ten Surnames page provides a ranking by numbers of the top ten 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 in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

And the Top 300 Surnames page ranks the 300 most common surnames 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.

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Best regards,

Colin Shelley