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This comprehensive guide of the best English last names or British aristocracy family names with their meanings can assist you in selecting the perfect surname for your family or gift your little newborn baby. Read on to find 100 British Last names or Surnames.
100 British Last Names Or Family Names With Meanings
Surnames distinguish a person from another. It also gives a sense of belonging to a certain family. Hence last names can vary based on a particular community or cultural rules. The United Kingdom last names are popular worldwide. While Welsh and Scottish last names originate from the Celtic languages like Cymric and Scots Gaelic, UK English last names usually originate from places, ancestors, occupations, or anglicisations of first names in other languages. Colonisation and immigration too had an impact on the surnames of people globally that have been influenced by common British last names.
In England, surnames are referred to as last names that were originally introduced by the Normans in 1066. Initially. old English surnames changed from one generation to the other. Later by 1400, surnames became hereditary. This alphabetically arranged list of rare British surnames can be a useful tool in genealogy. Each of these rare British surnames has a unique history with reference to their origin across regions of the United Kingdom. There are, in fact, more than 45,000 British family names that have a distinct meaning and fascinating story attached to them.
Adam means ‘man’ or ‘son of Adam’ in Hebrew’. Originating from the pre-medieval period, Adam is referred to as ‘the earth’ from where God created man.
This Greek word first appeared in the 14th century in Scotland and means ‘man’ or ‘manly’. It also refers to as ‘son of Andrew’.
Originated from the Scottish borders Armstrong, means meaning ‘something with strong arms’. In Irish, it means ‘Son of a strong man’.
Derived from the Middle English Atkin corresponds to the Scottish name Aitchison and means ‘son of Atkin’.
This occupational surname refers to an official ‘Ballis’ or ‘Balif’. Bailey in Lancashire refers to as ‘Berry wood’.
This occupational surname refers to the trade of the bakery. Derived from Middle English bakere, or bacan ‘to bake’.
Ball is a short form of Baldwin or ‘Balle’ which means ‘a Slope’ or a ‘Hill’ in Old Norse. It may also refer to someone who has a rotund or stocky stature.
Bell originates from the Old French era, and it means ‘Beautiful’ or ‘fair’. It may also have originated as an occupational name for a bell ringer or bell maker.
Derived from 7th century Old English word ‘brun’ or the Old Norse name Bruni, this surname describes a person with brown complexion or clothing.
This English habitational surname is derived from Old English burh or ‘fort’ and tun’ enclosure’. It means ‘fort settlement.’
This occupational surname has an English, Irish and Scottish origin. It refers to ‘Someone who transports goods by a cart or wagon’.
Derived from the Latin word ‘Clericus’, or Irish Gaelic sept Ó Cléirigh, this Anglo-Irish surname refers to a ‘Clerk’.
Considered one among the Medieval English surnames, Cole means ‘swarthy’, ‘coal-black’ or ‘charcoal’. The Cole family originated from Cornwall in South West England.
This surname originates from Britain and Ireland and refers to ‘son of Colin’. Its Irish variation ‘cuilein’ means ‘darling’.
This surname means ‘beloved’ in Hebrew. Originating from Scottish, northern England and Jewish regions, it also means ‘son of David’.
Originating from ‘Dafydd’ (son), this Welsh patronymic surname means ‘beloved’. It also comes from the Hebrew male name meaning ‘beloved’.
This baptismal surname originates from Anglo-Saxon era and means ‘the son of David’.
This patronymic surname first originated in Scotland. It means ‘Son of Dick’. A variant of Dickson, it is a traditional Scottish surname.
Edwards originated from Olde English pre 7th Century era. It comes from the Old English ‘Eadward’ and refers to ‘Prosperity guard’.
Derived from Elis or Elijah, Elliot was quite commonly used in medieval times. It means ‘Jehovah is my God’.
Originating from Welsh regions, this patronymic surname means ‘Son of Evan’. Evan derives from the Welsh name ‘Ifan’ meaning ‘gracious gift of Jehovah’.
This occupational surname refers to fishermen or people who lived by a fishing weir. In Ireland, it is the anglicised form of Gaelic Ó Bradáin which means ‘salmon’.
Derived from Scottish, English and Irish origin, this occupational surname refers to ‘Arrowsmith’ or ‘Seller of Arrows’.
This habitational surname is a variation of the Irish surname O Fuartháin or ‘descendant of O Fuarthán’. It refers to people who lived near a ford.
Foster refers to ‘nourish’ or ‘rear’. The ancient surname means ‘forest guardian’ or ‘a person who looks after a forest’.
Derived from Old English pre 7th century England, Fox was first used in Ireland and England. It is taken from the animal fox.
This surname of English and Scottish origin is derived from Gilbert and refers to the ‘Son of Gilbert’ or ‘Son of Gib’.
Originating from Old English, Graham refers to a ‘Grey home’.
Originating from English and Scottish regions, Grant means ‘tall’ or ‘large’.
Originating from Scotland, Gray is a habitational surname meaning ‘people having grey hair’.
Originating from Scotland, Green dates back to the 7th century. Derived from ‘Grene’, it refers to the colour Green.
This patronymic name originated in Wales and means ‘strong chief’ and ‘Son of the chief’.
Derived from the Scottish, German, English, Irish, and Scandinavian regions, this surname refers to a spacious part of the residence.
Hamilton is a habitational surname that refers to the village of Hamilton in Leicestershire, England.
Originating from English, Irish, and Scottish regions, Harris refers to ‘the son of Harry’ or ‘Home ruler’.
Harvey is derived from the Celtic words that refer to ‘ardent’, ‘battle’, ’ worthy’, or ‘strong’.
This surname of English origin is derived from the Greek or Latin name Hillary and means ‘someone who lives on a hill’.
Derived from English and Scottish origins, this patronymic name means ‘Son of Jack’.
This British surname is a Latin form of Hebrew name Jacob. It refers to a ‘Supplanter’ or ‘One who follows’.
Derived from John, Jenkins originated from Cornwall, England, this surname refers to ‘God has graced me with a son’.
This patronymic surname of English and Scottish origins refers to ‘Son of John’. Derived from the Latin term Johannes or Yohanan, it means ‘Jehovah has favoured’.
This surname of Welsh origin refers to ‘Son of John’ and is popular in Wales and South Central England.
This Irish last name means ‘Bright Headed’ or ‘Troublesome’ and is derived from Ceallach.
This surname is derived from the anglicised form of the term ‘Ceanneidigh’ referring to the ‘Descendant of Ceanneidigh’. Kennedy means ‘Someone with an ugly head’.
This surname refers to tribal leaders or someone who served in a Royal household. In old English, King is among the fashionable royal surnames England and is popular in England, Scotland and Ireland.
Derived from the Old English word ‘Cniht’, Knight refers to ‘Servant’ or a ‘Common soldier’.
Lawrence is a habitational last name that refers to ‘Someone from Laurentium’ a town near Italy.
Derived from Old English period, Lee is a variant of Lea, Leah, or Leigh. It refers to a ‘forest’ or a ‘meadow’.
Lewis originated from England and Wales, and it means ‘Winner’ or ‘Victor’.
Belonging to both Old Welsh and Medieval English origins, Lloyd is a derivative from the term Llwyd which means ‘Grey’.
This surname of ancient Norman origin is derived from ‘Mareschal’. It also has certain Germanic elements such as ‘Marah’ which means ‘Horse’ or ‘Who tended to Horses’.
Originating from France, Ireland, Germany and Scotland, Martin is a derivative of Mars or Martis who is a Roman god of war or fertility.
Originating from Irish, French, Italian and English regions, Mason is a derivative of ‘Maso’, which means ‘someone who does stone masonry work’.
This popular surname is a derivative of Donald which means ‘World ruler’. It is a Scottish patronymic name referring to ‘Son of Donald’.
Derived from the Irish personal name ‘Murchadh’, Murphy means ‘Sea Warrior’.
This locational surname comes from the old English word ‘The cattle farm’ or ‘neat’ which means ‘cattle’.
This patronymic surname is a form of the Irish name Neal or from the Gaelic Niall and means ‘champion’. It could also be the matronymic surname that means ‘son of Eleanor’.
This English surname meaning ‘someone with a sweet voice’ has an Anglo-Saxon origin. It is a derivative of Olde English pre 7th Century word ‘nihtegal’.
This surname of Irish, Scots or English origin means ‘Son of Nicholas’.
This English occupational surname means ‘a keeper of oxen’ or ‘a scribe’ or ‘a clerk.’
Originating from the 17th century, it refers to the village Odell in Bedfordshire, England. It also comes from Old English words “wad,” “hyll,” “and woad” which is a plant producing blue dye from its leaves.
Osborne is a baptismal name that means ‘Divine bear’. Popular in Ireland, it refers to ‘the son of Osbern’.
Owen originates from a Welsh first name called Owain and means ‘Noble’ or ‘Well-born’.
This Old English habitational name originates from Oxley in Staffordshire and West Yorkshire. It means ‘woodland’.
Common in English, Scottish and French regions, this surname means ‘attendant’.
Dating back to mid 13th century, this occupational surname is derived from the Old French word ‘peinto(u)r’ meaning ‘painter’.
Palmer is an occupational surname of old English, Norman, German, French and Scottish origin. It means ‘Palm bearer’.
This occupational surname is relevant to the profession of a religious pastor and a shepherd pastor.
This Scandinavian patronymic surname means “son of Peter’. Peter is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘stone’ or ‘rock’.
This anglicised version of the Irish surnames Ó Cuill, Coll, Coill and O’Coill means ‘forest’, or ‘shrub’.
Quimby is a surname derived from a toponym such as Quenby. Its original Norse meaning is ‘from the woman’s estate’.
This English surname originally derives from Cornwall. Cornish refers to the Celtic meaning ‘horn’, ‘headland’.
This English toponymic surname of Anglo-Saxon origin is derived from Ramsey in Essex or Ramsey in Huntingdonshire.
Ratliff is a habitational surname belonging to any place in Britain called Ratcliffe, Radcliffe, or Redcliff. The name is a variant of ‘red cliff’.
This surname of Germanic origin means ‘powerful’, ‘brave’. Brought by the Normans in 1066, Richard derives from ‘ruler’, and ‘hard’ or ‘strong in rule’.
This surname of Germanic roots means ‘bright’ or ‘fame’.
This patronymic first surname originating from England means ‘son of Robin’.
Originating from the Medieval English era, Scott is derived from the 7th-century word ‘Scotti’. It refers to the inhabitants of Scotland.
This patronymic Anglo-Scottish surname is derived from the words ‘Symson’, ‘Simme’ or Simon’ and means ‘Son of Simon’.
This occupational surname is an Old English term meaning ‘one who works in metal’. It can be an old English form of ‘smith’ or ‘to strike’.
Derived from the pre-7th century Old English word ‘Stigeweard’, it means ‘Warden’ or ‘Wall guardian’.
Originating from the French and Latin origin, this occupational surname refers to a ‘tailor’ or ‘to cut’.
This common last name means ‘Twin’ and has a Biblical reference due to Saint Thomas.
Originating from the Scottish and English regions, this surname refers to ‘son of Thom’.
This last name of Scottish and English origin refers to ‘Maker of objects from wood or metal’.
This common Irish last name originates from the British and Welsh community of soldiers. It refers to ‘Foreigner’ or ‘Welshman’.
Ward is an Old English word that entered England after the Norman conquest of 1066 and means ‘Guardian’ or ‘Watchman’.
Belonging to the Old English pre 7th Century era, Webb means ‘To Weave’.
Originating from English and German regions, West is a topographical surname that refers to ‘Someone who lived by the west of the settlement’.
This topographical surname of Irish origin belongs to the Isle of Wight, near Hampshire in England.
Yalden could have been derived from a geographical locality of Yalding, which is a parish in Kent.
Derived from Yarborough, a county in Lincolnshire, this surname comes from the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain.
This Old English habitational surname is derived from various places like Essex, West Midlands and means ‘of the Yard’.
Yarrow is a surname that is derived from the locality of Yarrow, which is a parish in Selkirkshire.
This topographic name refers to ‘someone who lived near the gates of a walled town’, or an occupational name for ‘a gatekeeper.’
Belonging to the pre 7th-century Anglo-Saxon era, this last name is derived from the word ‘Geong’ which means ‘The young one’.
Zachary is a family surname that came into England with the Norman conquest of 1066. It means ‘remembered by God’.
Originating from Anglo-Saxon tribes, Zelly is an Old English word that means ‘happy’ or ‘blessed’.
This unusual surname has a Germanic origin. It is a variant of Zinke that means ‘a tip’ or ‘point’ or Sink which is a topographical name.
Zouch is a topographical surname that comes from a hamlet in Nottinghamshire in England.
The most popular to the obscure UK last names can reveal their linguistic origins. When a child was christened with two or more baptismal names, often the last name would be adopted as a surname. Surnames also threw light on the lives of the ancestors. Most common Old English names have Vikings, Nordic, Scandanavians, German and French roots. Search for your family tree, and you would be amazed to find yourself part of an illustrious family that may add a touch of glory to your personal identity.