History of surnames

Surname Meanings:

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Surname Meanings and Origins
A, B, Be, Br

Abbott: English Occupational name for the man who lived in the house of the Abbott; a member of an abbot’s entourage; sometimes the lay abbot of a monastery who inherited his office; sometimes a nickname for the sanctimonious person.

Abrahamsson: son of Abraham, From the Hebrew personal name Abraham, borne by the first of the Jewish patriarchs, founder of the Jewish people (Gen. 11-25). The name is explained in Gen. 17:5 as being derived from Hebrew av hamon goyim ‘father of a multitude of nations’.

Adams: The son of Adam (man of red earth; red), from the Hebrew personal name Adam, which was borne, according to Genesis, by the first man. It is of uncertain etymology; it is often said to be from Hebrew adama earth.

Albertson - the descendant, or son, of Albert (noble, bright)

Alcock: Descendant or son of little Al, a pet form of Alan or Allen (Comely or fair; harmony)

Alger is an English patronymic name, from the given name Alger, which comes from several places -- Germanic, Norman, and
Old English -- which kind of ran together. The second syllable - ger is derived from the Germanic element geri/gari = spear.
Alfgeirr (elf spear) was a Norse name which served as one source; Aelfgar is another version (French Norman). The first
element of the name is generally assumed to be associated with alb = elf, adal = noble, or ald = old. Variations are Algar,
Auger, Elgar, Elger.

Allyn is a spelling variation of the English and Scottish patronymic name Allen , an ancient Celtic name derived from Gaelic
ailin = little rock. or  "Member of a nomadic Scythian tribe"

Anderson : is the ninth most common surname in America, and owes that position to the popularity of the name Andrew in England, Scotland, and Scandinavian countries. Andrew (man, manly) was the first of the disciples called by Jesus, and was a revered name due to its church influences through medieval times. St. Andrew is the patron saint of both Scotland and Russia and many given names were chosen to honor the saint. Patronymic surnames are names used to describe a man by using his father's name. The Swedes in American eliminated the extra -S- they normally include to become Anderson. It was Andersson and Anderssen before they emigrated. Andrews is largely found in Scotland, along with McAndrew -- the prefix Mc being another patronymic designation -- which is also found in Ireland.

Angus (Scottish) Descendant of Angus (one choice); one who came from the district of Angus (said to be named after Angus, king of the Picts), the ancient name of Forfarshire.

Appleby  One who came from Appleby (homestead where apples grew), the name of several places in England.

Arnesdatter (Danish, Norwegian) the daughter of Arne (eagle)

Aron - the son or descendant of Aron (lofty mountain)

Arthur is an English, Welsh and French patronymic name, from the Celtic given name Arthur , (Thor’s eagle; valorous, noble; bear, man), but has been in continuous use since the Middle Ages, partly due to the King Arthur tales, based on a 6th century British leader.

Atherton (English) One who came from Atherton (Ethelhere's homestead), in Lancashire.

Atwood. Dweller at or near the wood.

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Babcock: (English) The son of Babb or Bab, a pet form of Barbara (stranger) or a pet form of Baptist (baptizer).

Bachelder: (English) The holder, or tenant, of a small farm; an officer or servant who has care of the door in a large household; the young person, or young knight.

Bacon (English) A swineherd or peasant, from the nickname, Bacon; a bacon or lard dealer; dweller at the sign of the pig, at a time when bacon meant the live pig.

Bailey is an English occupational name for a steward or official, from the Middle English bailli = carrier, porter. In Scotland,
the bailli is the magistrate and bailiff is a form that has evolved elsewhere. Occasionally, the name is derived as an English Place
name from a Middle English word derived from Old French baille = enclosure. In this form it originally meant the person living
by the outer wall of the castle, but Old Bailey, a place in Lancashire which formed part of the outer wall of some medieval
castle, also became the origin for surname for people from that location.

Baker : As you might suspect, this name originated in the occupation of a medieval townsman, where many of the most frequently found surnames were derived. Baker is the 7th most frequently found occupational surname in America.

Baldwin is an English Patronymic name from the given name comprised of the Germanic elements bald = bold, brave + wine =
friend. Baldwin was an extremely popular given name among the Normans and in Flanders during the Middle Ages. The first
Christian king of Jerusalem was Baldwin, as was the count of Flanders who lead the Fourth Crusade and became the first Latin
Emperor of Constantinople in 1204. Occasionally, Baldwin is an Irish surname adopted by bearers of the Gaelic name
O'Maolagain , as a result of an association with an English term meaning bald, as a nickname.

Bannister: (English) One who made and sold baskets; one who fought with a crossbow.

Barker (English) One who prepared leather with bark, a tanner.

Barnard is a French and English variation of the surname Bernard, which has origins among the English, French, Polish, and
Czechs, and is derived from the Germanic given name Bernhard, from the elements ber = bear + hard = brave, hardy. The
name was introduced to England by the conquering Normans in 1066

Baron: (English, Scottish, Irish, French) from the title of nobility, Middle English, Old French baron, barun. As a surname it is unlikely to be a status name denoting a person of rank. The great baronial families of Europe had distinctive surnames of their own. However, ‘baron’ in Scotland denoted a member of a class of minor landowners who had a certain degree of jurisdiction over the local populace, and the title was also awarded to certain freeman of the cities of London and York and of the Cinque Ports; either of these uses might be the source of a surname. Far more commonly, however, the surname is derived from an Old French name Baro, or else referred to service in a baronial household or was acquired as a nickname by a peasant who had ideas above his station.

Barr, Barre (Scottish) One who came from Barr (height), in Ayrshire and Renfrewshire; dweller at the top of the hill.

Barrington : English Place name, from several locations by that name, the one in Gloucester derived from Old English
Beorningtun (settlement of Beorn), the Somerset location derived from Bara's Settlement. Occasionally Barrington is an
Anglicized form of O'Bearain , descendant of Bearan (spear).

Bartlett: (English) Descendants of little Bart, a pet form of Bartholomew (Son of Talmai, furrow)

Bassett (English, French) Descendant of little Bass or Bassa (short); the short man

Batchelder: (Scottish) The holder or tenant of a small farm; an officer or servant who has care of the door, a door keeper.

Bate: (English and Scottish) 1) from the Middle English given name Bat(t)e, a pet name for Bartholomew. 2) metonymic occupational name for a boatman, from Old English bat boat.

Bayford: (English) place name from a place in Herts., so called from the OE personal name Baega.

Beamsley: (English) One who came from Beamsley (valley grove), in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Bean: (English, Scottish) Descendant of Ben, a pet form of Benjamin (son of my right hand) or of Benedict (blessed); the light complexioned man.

Beauchamp a place name from several so-named French locales, from Old French beu, bel = fair + champs = field, plain.

Beaumont: (English, French) One who came from Beaumont (beautiful mountain), the name of five place is Normandy, as well as several places in England.

Beaupre (French) Dweller in or near the beautiful meadow.

Beckingham: (English) One who came from Beckingham (homestead of Becca’s people), the name of places in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.

Bellemont (French) One who came from Belmont (fair hill), the name of various lordships in France

Bengtsson: (Swedish) The son of Bengt, Swedish form of Benedict (blessed).

Berkely (English) One who came from Berkeley (birch wood), in Gloucestershire, or Berkley in Somersetshire; dweller in or near a birch wood.

Berner (English) One who burned brick or charcoal; a keeper of hounds.

Birrell is a English cognate of the French name Bourrel, derived from a diminutive version of Boure, which was used in several senses in Old French, including "cushion," "harness," "headdress," and "crest." The name would have identified the maker or seller of any of these items. Occasionally, Bourrel was the man who served as the judicial torturer, from Old French bourreau < bourrer = to maltreat, torture (it is literally translated as "wool carder." Variations are Bourreau, Borel, Borrel .

Bjornsen (Norwegian) the son of Bjorn (bear)

Bois is a French place name for the man who lived or worked in the woods, derived from Old French bois = wood. Variations are Dubois, Desbois, Bost, Dubos, Dubost .

Bolton (English, Scottish) One who came from Bolton (dwelling, enclosure), the name of various places in England and Scotland.

Booth is an English Place name for the man who lived in a small hut or bothy from the Middle English word bothe , and usually designated a cowman or shepherd. It has Scandinavian origins and denoted the various kinds of temporary shelter, and is more common in Northern England and Scotland. Variations include Boothe, Boothman, Boden, Bodin .

Bos (Dutch, German) Dweller in or near the woods; a quarrelsome man

Bosco (Italian) Dweller in or near a woods.

Bosley: One who came from Bosley (Bosa's wood), in Cheshire.

Boyd is of uncertain etymology, although sometimes listed as describing a man with yellow hair, or derived from the island of Bute in the Firth of Clyde, from Gaelic Bod

Bradshaw: (English) One who came from Bradshaw (extensive grove), in Derbyshire; dweller in, or near, the big woods.

Branch (English, French) One who came from Branch (bow) in Normandy; descendant of Branca or Brancher (ruler), names of two early saints; a name referring to the "day of branches" i.e. Palm Sunday.

Brent "High place" (Celtic); or, "steep" (Old English)

Brewer: (British) One who brewed beer or ale.

Briant is a French cognate of the English patronymic name Bryan, from a Celtic given name Brian containing the element bre = hill and used in the transferred sense of "eminence." Bretons with the name accompanied William the Conqueror in his invasion of England, then went on to invade and settle in Ireland, mingling with the native Irish. Variations are Brian, Brien, Bryant, Briant

Bristow (English) One who came from Bristol (the site of the bridge) in Gloucestershire.

Brockwell: (English) Dweller at the stream frequented by badgers.

Brook, Brooks: (British) Dweller near the spring or brook, sometimes marsh.

Brown : is one of the more common surnames, as you might expect. Among the light skinned English anyone with a darker complexion, brown hair, tendency toward brown clothing, etc. were often described that way, and it stuck as a surname. There are a number of derivatives in many countries.

Bruce (Scottish) One who came from Braose (now Brieuse), in Normandy

Bryant is a variation of the English surname Bryan, from the Celtic given name Brian, containing the element bre = hill, used in the transferred sense of 'eminence.' Bearers of this name accompanied William the Conqueror in the invasion of England in 1066, and went on to invade and settle in Ireland in the 12th century.

Buckley (English) One who came from Bulkeley (bullock pasture), in Cheshire..

Bulmer is an English Place name from a place in Essex that was recorded in the Domesday Book as Bulenemera . It is derived from the Old English elements bulena (the plural of bula = bull) + mere = lake, for a literal meaning of 'lake of the bulls.'

Burdett (English, French) Descendant of Bordet (little shield); dweller near the border; dweller on a rented farm

Burgundy One who came from Burgundy (dwellers in fortified places)

Burnell (French) The dark or brown-complexioned man.

Burnham : an English Place name from various locations; Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire, various villages in Norfolk,
and Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex. The name Burnham is derived from Old English burna = stream + ham = homestead.

Bussell: (English) Dweller at, or near, a thicket or small wood; one who came from Boissel (small wood), in France.

Button is an English cognate of the French patronymic Bouton, a variation of the name Boudon from the given name Bodo =
messenger. It is occasionally derived as a nickname for the man with a prominent boil or wart, from Old French boton = knob,
lump. It was also sometimes found as a name for the maker of buttons, with the same OF origin, in the sense of knob = button.
Boutonnier is a variation of Bouton (the buttonmaker).

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