• The first people known to use surnames were the Chinese in 2852 B.C.
• Surnames were once taken from the location where they lived. For instance John who lived over the hill became - John Overhill. So names that end in -ford, -wood, -brook -well are placement names.
• Surnames that end in the word "son,"... Williamson, etc, are the "son of." Other countries used this also. Armenians used -ian; Danes & Norwegians used -sen; Finns -nen; Greeks - poulos; Spaniard -ez; Poles -wiecz.
• Surnames that have prefixes donating "son" are the Welsh -Ap; Scots & Irish -Mac; the Normans -Fitz.
The name David ap John, meaning David son of John, became David Upjohn.
The name John fitz Gerald means the son of Gerald and now would be John Fitzgerald
• During the Middle Ages, people were gradually acquiring a name to distinguish individuality. Places of birth or traits were used ... St. Frances of Assisi; Lambert Le Tort, an old French poet whose name means "Lambert the Twisted," but these were individual names ... not family names.
• The modern hereditary use of surnames is a practice that started among the Venetian aristocracy in Italy about the 10th or 11th century.
• By the 1370's the word 'Surname' was found in documents, throughout France, the British Isles, Germany, & Spain.
• By 1450 most people (in Europe) of any social rank had a fixed, hereditary surname.
• By the 15th & 16th centuries family names gained popularity in Poland & Russia.
• The Scandinavian Countries, bound by their custom of using the fathers name as a second name, did not start using family names until the 19th century.
• Not all people in Turkey used surnames until 1933 when the government forced the practice on people.
• In Ireland, a surname that starts with Mac, meant '"son of." An example is: MacDonald.
If it starts with "O," it meant "grandson of," ... example: O'Brien.
• The most common surname on the planet is Li, the second is Wang.
• After the Battle of Hastings, 1066 AD, William the Conqueror ordered every man in Britain to select any surname. For awhile a man could give his sons any surname, and in the same family one son might be William Hunter, one Edward Farmer, and the other James Cook.
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