History of surnames

Surname Meanings:

Look-up request



Surname Meanings and Origins
R, S, Sk, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z


Radcliffe, Radcliff: (English)  One who came from Radcliffe (red cliff), in Lancashire.

Raleigh: (English) One who came from Raleigh (red meadow), in Devonshire.

Ramirez (Spanish) The son of Ramon (wise protector).

Randolph : English Patronymic name from the early given name Raedwulf, which means 'shield wolf.' It was popular
in England before the Norman Conquest. The name eventually became Radulf and Randolph is a derivative.

Rasmusen (Norwegian, Danish) The son of Rasmus, a variant of Erasmus (amiable).

Renaud is a variation of the English patronymic name Reynold, deriving from a Germanic based given name composed of the elements ragin = counsel + wald = rule. Scandinavian settlers first brought the name to England in the Old Norse form that evolved into Ronald, but the French version was reinforced with William the Conqueror.

Rice (British). "Ardour" (Welsh) Form of Rhys.

Richey, Richie , and Rich (when not a nickname for the man with money, or ironically for the poor man) are diminutive forms of the English patronymic name Richard; found among the English, French, German, Flemish, Dutch, and derived from a Germanic given name of the elements ric = power + hard = hardy, brave. Variations of Richard are Ritchard, Ricard, Riccard, Rickard, Rickerd, Rickert, Rickett, Ricket (all English versions).

Roche: (French, English) Dweller near a rock; one who came from Roche (rock), in Cornwall.

Rockett: (English) One who came from La Roquette (the little rock), in Normandy.

Roe "Roe (deer)" for speed, shyness and hunting.

Rogers : English/French Patronymic name from the given name Roger which was brought to England by the Normans as Rogier. Its elements are hrod = renown + geri = spear, or `reknowned spearman.'

Root: (English) The happy or cheerful man.

Rugge: (English)  Dweller at, or on, the ridge or range of hills; one who came from Rudge (ridge), the name of places in Gloucestershire and Shropshire.

Russ: (English) The red-haired or ruddy complexioned man; descendant of Russ, a pet form of Russell (dim. of red)

Russell is an English, Scottish, and Irish patronymic name from the given name Rousel, which was a common Anglo-Norman French nickname for someone with red hair.

Back to top


Saint John (English) One who came from St. Jan, a common French place name.

Sanborn: (English) One who came from Sambourne (sandy stream), in Warwickshire.

Sanchez (Spanish) The son of Sancho (sanctified)

Sandford, Sanford: (English) One who came from Sandford (sandy ford), the name of several places in English.

Savage is an English nickname for a 'wild or uncouth person,' derived from a Middle English version of Old French salvage , sauvage = untamed.

Scales (English) One who came from Scales (hut or temporary shelter), the name of several places in England; dweller in the hut or shed.

Scarbrough (English) One who came from Scarbrough (Skarthi's fort), in Yorkshire.

Schmidt (German) "Smith"

Schneider is a German and Jewish (Ashkenazic) occupational name for the tailor, from the German word Schneider , from
Old German sniden = to cut. As a Jewish name it comes from the Yiddish shnayder from the same origins. It has roots in Old
French tailleur as a translated version.

Scott is an English and Scottish ethnic name that was used to identify the man from Scotland, or the man who spoke Gaelic within Scotland.

Scarisbrick is an English place name derived from the place near Liverpool that bears the name, which came to be called that through a combination of the Old Norse given name Skar added to the Old Norse vocabulary word brekka = slope, hill. The settlement at that location was literally "Skar's hill" or "Scar's brekka." Any man who formerly lived at that settlement, but moved to a new village could be described by his new neighbors by the reference to his former place of residence (to differentiate him from others already in the village with the same given name). Variations are Sizebrick, Siosbrick . Most who bear the name today are descended from Gilbert de Scaresbrec, who was lord of the manor of Scarisbrick in the 1200's.

Searl(e) - "Armour"

Seavey: (English) Descendant of Saewig (sea, war).

Seymour: (English)  Descendant of Seamer (sea, famous); one who came from Seamer (lake, sea), in Yorkshire; one who came from St. Maur (black), in France.

Shannon (Irish) Grandson of little Seanach (old or wise)

Shepard: (English) One who tended sheep.

Simson (English) The son of Sim, pet form of Simon or Simeon (gracious hearing); one who came from Simpson (Sigewine's homestead), in Buckinghamshire.

Sinclair (Scottish, English) One who came from St. Clair (bright), the name of several places in Normandy; follower of St. Clair.

Skinner (English) One who prepared skins.

Smith : is an English Occupational name for man who works with metal, one of the earliest jobs for which specialist skills were required. It is a craft that was practiced in all countries, making the surname and its cognizants the most widely found of all occupational names in Europe. Medieval Smiths made horseshoes, plows, and items for the house. English variations are Smyth; German & Danish = Schmidt

Sneed (English) Dweller at a clearing or piece of woodland; one who came from Snaith (piece of land), in Yorkshire.

Sorenson means "son of Sorin." It is a Jewish name that comes from the Yiddish female given name Sore (Sarah), which comes from Hebrew Sara = princess. Sorenson is actually a double suffix, since the name Sorin itself is an indicator of descendancy from Sore (Sarah).

Sparks (British) "Sprighty, lively"

Squire: (English) A young man of gentle birth attendant upon a knight.

Stafford : is an English Place name that was adopted by the man who lived near a river or creek at a crossing point -- which was called a ford. The particular crossing point was a 'stony ford, or ford by a landing place.'

Standish : is an English Place name for the location in Lancashire (now Greater Manchester) from OE stan =stone + edisc = pasture, for a literal meaning of 'stone pasture.'

Stanfield: (English) One who came from Stanfield (Stony field), in Norfolk; dweller on, or near, stony land.

Stanley is an English place name derived from the Old English elements stan = stone + leah = wood, clearing, and described the man who lived at the stony clearing in the woods, or a similar known geographic location.

Stanton is an English place name, from Old English stan = stone + tun = settlement, enclosure. The man from the "settlement on stony ground" was described as "stan-tun." There are numerous locations throughout England with the name, and the man who left one of those locations for a new settlement would also be referred to in that fashion by his new neighbors, to designate him as the new guy from that town.

Staples: (English) One who came from Staple (post or pillar), in Kent; dweller at a post.

Stapleton (English) One who came from Stapleton (homestead by a post).

Starkey: (English, Irish) Descendant of Starkie, a pet form of names beginning with Starc (strong), such as Starcbeorht, Starcfrith or Starcwulf; the little, strong man.

Stewart, Steward (English, Scottish) Keeper of the sty, pen or hall, later manager of a household or estate; one who had charge of a king's, or important noble's, household.

Stone: (English) Dweller near some remarkable stone or rock, often a boundary mark;  one who came from Stone (the stone or stones), the names of various places in England.

Strange, Strangeman, Stranger: (English) The stranger, one who came from a distance.

Strode (English) Dweller at, or near, a marshy place overgrown with brushwood.

Stromquist: (Swedish) Stream twig.

Sutton (English) One who came from Sutton (southern village or homestead).

Svensson: (Swedish) The son of Sven (young boy or servant)

Swann/Swan : English Nickname for a person noted for purity of excellence (attributes of the swan, supposedly), from Old English swan . Some Swan surnames derived from the signs at the roadside inns during early times, when people didn't read signs as much as they looked at the pictures – and innkeepers sometimes took their sign's picture as a surname. (Most were animals, birds or fish.) Occasionally, Swan is derived as an Occupational name for the servant or retainer as a variant of Swain .

Swift: (English) One who was fleet of foot, probably a messenger.

Symond: (English) The son of Simon or Simeon (gracious hearing).

Back to top


Talbot: (English) Descendant of Talbot (to cut fagots); the pillager or bandit.

Temple: (English) Dweller in, or near, a religous house of the Knights Templars; descendant of Temple, a name sometimes given a foundling abandoned in a temple.

Theobald (English) Descendant of Theobald (people, bold)

The name Thomas comes from an Aramaic term for "twin." It was one of the really popular given names at a very early time, which led to people who bore the name achieving some renown, leading to an increased popularity. The first letter of the name was originally the Greek "theta" which accounts for the TH spelling -- the pronunciation of which was lost due to the French influence in the earliest stages of the name.

Thompson : English and Scottish Patronymic which was a popular name in the Middle Ages. Thompson means "son of the man known as Thom, Thomp, or Thompkin, or other diminutive form of Thomas (twin)"

Thomson : Thomas was a popular given name in the Middle Ages, and it has endured through the years. Thom is a pet form and the man who had Thom for a Dad, was Thom'son. It's an English Patronymic name.

Thornton: (English) One who came from Thornton (place where thornbushes grew), the name of many places in England.

Titcomb: (English) One who came from Titcombe (Titta's valley), in Wiltshire.

Townsend is nearly a literally vocabulary expression for the man who lived at the "town's end" and is derived from Middle English tun,tone = village, settlement + end = end. Variations are Townhend, Townend, Townen .

Tripp: (English) One who took care of a flock of sheep or a herd of swine or goats.

Trumbull: possibly a combination of two Anglo-Saxon roots: *trum, meaning “strong,” and *bald, meaning “bold,” producing Old English *trumbeald.

Tyrrell as a surname is of unclear origin, but it is believed to have derived from Old French tirer = to pull, which when used in
the context of an animal and reins and applied to a person, was intended to mean stubborn.'

Back to top


Underhill (English) Dweller under, or at the foot of, the hill.

Upton (English) One who came from Upton (higher village or homestead)

Back to top


Venables, Venable: (Welsh, English) One who came from Venables or Vignoles (vineyard), in France.

Verdon is predominately derived from Vardon , a Norman name brought to England with William the Conquerer. Verdun is a name held by several locations in France, and is of Gaulic origin, deriving from the elements vern = alder + dun = hill, fortress. Many of the men bearing the name originated from La Manche, and the village called Verdun in that area. During the middle ages there was a dialectic change in which -er was pronounced as if -ar; for example, the cloth-seller was called a marchant, which meant merchant. Later, the erroneous pronunciation was corrected by scholars. Vardon has remained as the predominant version of Verdun, which was corrected in the case of Verdon.

Vernon: (French, English) One who came from Vernon (the adler grove), the name of several places in France.

Vivian (English) Descendant of Vivian (animated).

Back to top


Wade: (English) Dweller at the shallow river crossing or ford; descendant of Wada (to advance)

Walcot (English) One who came from Walcot (cottage of the serfs).

The family of Waleys or Walsch is of Glamorganshire descent and was long seated at Llandaugh Castle, near St. Mary Church.

Waller (English) One who built walls; dweller at, or near, a wall such as the old Roman wall.

Walford (British) "Stream, ford"

Walsh : English/Welsh place name. In England, the man from Wales would be described as Walsh, Welsh, Wallace , or Welch -- that is, foreigner or stranger.

Walton : The ending -ton comes from the Old English/Norse -tun which designated a town or settlement. Walton was the 'walled' town or the 'wood' town and is an English Place name.

Warburton: (English) One who came from Warburton (Waerburg's homestead), in Cheshire.

Warner/Warren : both names were derived from the job of the man who watched over the wildlife at a park. They are both English Occupational names.

Warren : English Place Name...(Norman) from La Varrenne in Seine-Maritime which means sandy soil.

Warwick: (English) One who came from Warwick (farm by a dam or fish trap, or on the bank), the name of places in Warwickshire and Cumberland.

Webster is a variation of the English occupational name Webb, who was a weaver, from early Middle English webbe > Old English webba = to weave. By the time the name was adopted, the word webbe was almost obsolete, and the -ster and -er suffixes had found their place in the language, which led to Webster. Webbe, Webber , and Web are variations.

Westbrook: (English) One who came from Westbrook (western brook), the name of several places in England.

Weston (English) One who lived in the western homestead.

Westwick is an English place name composed of the Old English west = west + wic = outlying settlement. It described the man who lived in the smaller, outlying settlement that depended on a nearby larger settlement (like a suburb, of sorts).

Wheeler: One who made wheels or wheeled vehicles.

Wickham (English) One who came from Wickham (manor or dwelling place, or homestead with a dairy farm).

Wilson (English, Scottish) The son of Will, pet form of William (resolution, helmet)

Whitcombe (English) One who came from Whitcombe (wide valley).

White : English/Scottish/Irish Nickname for the man with white hair, or pale skin, from the Middle English whit = white.

Whiting (English) Descendant of Whiting (Hwita's son); dweller at the white meadow.

Whitney: (English) One who came from Whitney (Hwita's island or white island), in Hertfordshire.

Woodland: (English) One who came from Woodland (wooded land), the name of several places in England.

Woodward (British) "Woodkeeper, forester"

Wray (English) One who came from Wray (isolated place).

Wyatt : the word wido was Old German for 'wood' and was brought to England with the Normans as the given name Guy.
Diminutive forms include Wyatt which was adopted as a Patronymic surname.

Back to top


York: (English) one who came from York (place of yew trees), in Yorkshire. The present name for the city of York probably came from the Danes who invaded in 867 A.D. They named the village Jorvic or Yorvic, pronounced as York.

Back to top

[Home] [My Genealogy] [Surnames] [Research] [About Me] [Pictures
[Linguistics] [Links] [Contact Me] [Site Map]