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 120 surnames that are reviewed here.

Site Map: Select Names

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