The Select Surnames2 Website

What's in a name?  More than you might think.  Each surname carries an individual history that has been shaped by all the forebears of that name.  In palmistry, the left hand usually tells you what you are born with, the right hand what you made on your life.  So too with family genealogy.  Word origin and DNA will provide a starting point.  But the history and events over time can give these names their distinctive characteristics and traits. 

The site contains select surnames of English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish and other origin.  The following are some of the surnames that are covered here:

Bliss.  As the Bliss Family History Society put it:  "We are free to choose the source of our particular branch of the Bliss name: a native stubbornly persistent Anglo-Saxon heritage or a venturesome hot-tempered Norman import."  Bliss in the Anglo-Saxon version derived from the Middle English blisse, meaning "gladness" or "joy;" or Bliss originated from the Norman de Blez family.  

Houston.  Houston is a Scottish clan name that originated with Hugh de Padvinan, a Norman knight templar, sometime around 1160.  His lands in Renfrewshire came to be called Houston.  In America the pronunciation can vary.  New Yorkers say "How"-ston, Texans say "Hue"-ston.  "How"ston Street in New York was named after the aristocratic Scotsman William Houstoun; the city of "Hue"ston in Texas after the Scots-Irish Sam Houston who defeated Mexico to deliver Texas to the United States.  

Metcalfe.  There are several versions of the origin of the Metcalfe name.  The most accepted one is that the name is composed of the Old English mete, meaning "meat," and cealf, a "calf," the thinking being that this was a calf that was to be fattened up over the summer for eating.   Metcalfe is a name of the north Yorkshire dales.   

O’Niell.  O'Neill is an Irish clan whose name goes back into the mists of history - to the legendary 5th century warrior king of Ireland Niall Noigiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages), who is said to have been responsible for bringing St. Patrick to Ireland.   When Nial Gluin Dubh (Nial of the Back Knee) was killed in 919 fighting the raiding Norsemen, his grandson Domhnall adopted the surname Ua Niall.   

Sachs.  In Germany the surname Sachs took its name from the region of Saxony in central Germany, originally Sachsen after a line of princes there in the 15th century.  However, the later Jewish roots are different: it being here a name adopted in memory of persecuted forebears, an acronym of the Hebrew phrase zera kodesh shemo, or "his name is of the seed of holiness."

The table below shows the list of the 100 surnames that are reviewed here.

Site Map: Select Names

Duffy Houston McMahon Sachs
Atkins Elliott Hunter Metcalfe Sainsbury    
Barlow Farrell Irving Murdoch Savage
Bassett  Ferguson      Jacobs Newman Snow
Blair Fisher Jardine Nicholson Spalding
Bliss Fletcher Jenkins O'Connor Starbuck
Bloom Forbes Joyce O'Neill Stein
Bradley Forsyth Kellogg Owen Swift
Burns Franklin Knox Peterson Tyler
Cameron Friedman Kramer Pitt Tyson
Carey Gates Kruger Pollock/Polk Upson
Christie Geary Larkin Porter Van Buren
Churchill Graham Leadbetter    Quinn Vincent
Coleman Griffiths Lomas Rathbone Wainwright
Connolly Harvey Long Rees/Reese Walcott
Craven Hawkins Mackay  Richards Warner
Crowe Hickey Marshall Robson Weinberg
Daft Hodge Massey Roosevelt Wells
Hoffman Matthews Rowe Wren
Dow Holt McKenzie Ryan Yardley

Have a look at some of these surnames - other than your own - to see the extent of the rich tapestry of life that can exist in family names.

Each surname on this list includes: a name origin or derivation; a history of the name through time and countries; some notable people who bear this name; and further internet resources on the name (we have only chosen those sites that are readily accessible without charge on the internet).

Enjoy the site!

Colin Shelley

PS.  If your surname does not appear in the list above, you might want to check out the surname page in this website.  It covers surname genealogy for more than 800 surnames.  These surnames are to be found in this and these companion websites: