Most people take their surnames very much for granted, and yet they are one of our most personal and interesting possessions. Your surname can tell you quite a lot about your ancestors. Not all names are what they at first sight seem to be: if your name is Farmer, then an ancestor was a tax-collector; if it is Alabaster, then you are descended from a crossbowman. About 1500 surnames are included, and if your name is not amongst them then probably a very similar one is. This is an easy-to-read introduction to a fascinating subject.
The late J. w. Freeman had written historical articles for newspapers and magazines for many years. He became interested in the history and origins of surnames in the 1960s and his interest never diminished.
Nicknames; More nicknames; Occupational names; Local surnames; Local surnames of French origin; Surnames of family relationship; Old English, French or Scandinavian?; Irish surnames; Scottish surnames; Welsh surnames; Transatlantic surnames; Commonwealth surnames; Conclusion, Further reading, Index of names.