Origin Of Surnames

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Origins of Surnames

In today’s society we all want to know who we are and where our names originated from. Our names are what give each of us our own style and individuality, the importance of style and individuality can be related back to our original surnames. Our surnames have come from all areas of the world, each with specific meanings to our family. Surnames or last names have an important meaning to all of us, they give us identity through our family’s history. Looking back into history our names have changed drastically, keeping some people from knowing how their surnames really originated. Surnames originated early in history and did so for many reasons.
The first knowledge of surnames was in the biblical times, they used names that went by geography, for example “ Corey of Carlisle.” The actual use of surnames originated in Europe, and in some Scandinavian areas, in the eleventh and fifteenth century by small villages. The reason that no surnames were used before this time was the fact that most people were illiterate, living in small villages in a country atmosphere. Living out in the country these people had no reason to learn to read or write, because their lives were lived off the land. They did not need surnames to signify who they we’re or what they did. In these small villages they went by their first names, people all had different first names, so they did not need surnames to tell people apart. But when the population of the villages grew, it became important to have surnames to identify two people with the same name. The use of surnames showed social class, culture, tradition and, the jobs they worked.
The forming of surnames first came from other names by which someone was called. The name “Johnson” originated from “the son of John,” and the same goes with my last name “Richardson.” In some countries they would use their mothers first name for a surname, such as “Paige.” Jimmy Paige, from the band Led Zeppelin, could say his surname originated this way. Other origins of surnames came from places and geographical names. The surname “England” or “Penn” show this quality. Obviously England is a country and Penn is shortened from Pennsylvania. Surnames like “Smith” ( as in blacksmith ) and “Carpenter” ( one who works with wood ) come from the jobs that these people held.

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