A surname is a part of a person’s name. It can represent any aspect of the individual, such as the location of birth, physical features, profession, family, tribe, or the community the person belongs to. A genetic inheritance or the custom of adopting surnames from different cultures due to mass migration and European colonisation have led to the adoption of surnames in America.
The Southern United States or the Southern States is a geographical region of the United States with a culture of its own. It includes the states that fought for the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. This region has developed its own customs, cuisines, literature, and musical styles with strong European, Native American, and African components. Characterised by being socially conservative, with agriculture and slavery playing primary roles in the antebellum economy, the Southern society remains mostly stratified due to the influence of land ownership, religious affiliation, and Northern and Latin influences.
So, with the first evidence of Native American occupation in the southern States dating back to 9500 BC, it is only natural that the old southern surnames are reminiscent of Southern culture and historical traditions. Southern family names reveal a naming pattern based on a negotiation between the worlds of white mainstream, ethnic identity, or their national origin. They are indicative of a certain level of acculturation that the immigrant individuals and families experience. Thus, Southern last names may be funny, sweet, or fierce endowed with interesting meanings. They may help to trace back your family’s past or help in studying the evolution of naming traditions in Southern America.
70 Famous Southern Surnames or Family Names With Meanings
Surnames have continued to “develop” throughout the centuries with astonishing variants of their original spelling. If you want to pick one from the common southern last names to run in your family, choose one from the curated list given below.
Originating from the Hebrew name Hevel, meaning ‘breath’ or ‘vigor’, this Anglo-Scottish surname was presumably a name of endearment or a nickname. Its variants maybe Abel, Able, Abele, Abelle, Abels, Abeles, Abells, Abelson, and Ableson.
Abernathy is a habitational name from Abernethy in southeastern Perthshire. This Scottish surname belonged to a Scottish clan who settled near the mouth of the River Nethy.
According to Genesis, Adams comes from the Hebrew word Adama, meaning ‘earth’. Adam was the first man on earth. The letter “s” in the end generally indicates a patronymic surname, meaning “son of Adam”.
Originating in Ireland, Allen is derived from Ailin in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It means ‘little rock’ or ‘harmony’. It may have also come from Celtic Aluinn, which means ‘handsome’.
Baker is an occupational surname of Anglo-Saxon origin. A derivative of Bacan, meaning ‘to dry by heat’, this name may refer to the baker of bread’.
This Scottish and English topographic surname refers to someone who lived on the slope of a hillside or by a riverbank.
Belle has an Old English origin, and it means ‘beauty’.
Birdie has an Anglo-Saxon origin meaning ‘for God’.
This medieval English surname comes from a place called Caillovet-Orgeville in Eure, France. It is derived from the Old Norman French ‘cail (ou)’, meaning ‘pebble’.
Cook has an Old English origin, and it means ‘one who cooks’ or ‘one who sold cooked meat’.
Corbin has an Old English origin. It means ‘raven’. It may refer to a person with dark hair.
Derived from Davenport’s locational name in Cheshire, Davenport has an Old English origin, and it means ‘market town’.
This patronymic surname of Welsh origin means ‘son of David’.
Dawson has Irish, English, and Scottish origins. It means ‘son of David’. David, in turn, comes from Hebrew Dodavehu, meaning ‘beloved of Jehovah’.
Derived from the Old Germanic ‘Hrodebert’, or the medieval name Dobbe, Doby has a Scottish origin, and it means ‘bright’ or ‘famous’.
This patronymic surname of Welsh origin means ‘the son of Edward’.
A diminutive of the medieval English name Elis or Greek name Elias, Elkins means ‘Jehovah is God’.
A derivative of the name Ifan, Evans has Welsh roots meaning ‘son of Evan’.
Derived from Irish Ó Fearghail, Ferrell means ‘man of valor’.
Fortner is an Americanised form of German Pfortner. It is an occupational name for the gatekeeper of a walled town or doorkeeper in a castle or monastery.
This English, Cornish, and Welsh surname is derived from Old English frig meaning ‘free’. It was also used as a nickname for a small person or an offspring.
Derived from Latin ‘Fullo’, Fuller has an English origin, and it means ‘one who deals with woollen clothes’.
Good comes from Middle English personal name Gode or ancient ‘God’ referring to someone pious and respected.
Graves is a locational name of Anglo-Saxon descent for someone who lived near a thicket or grove. Variants include Grover, Grove, Greaves. It also refers to a ‘manager’ or ‘steward’.
This surname of English origin means ‘strong’ or ‘hardy’.
Harrison has an English origin and means ‘the son of Harry’.
Hernandez has a Spanish origin and means ‘the son of Hernando’.
This surname of Proto-Germanic origin means ‘forested upland’.
Howard has an English origin and means ‘brave’ and ‘spirit’.
This English occupational surname refers to the ‘innkeeper’.
This surname has Scottish, Irish, and English origins. It is derived from Eoforwine, meaning ‘friend’.
Ivey has an Anglo-Saxon origin referring to the son of Ive.
Johnson has a Scottish origin, and it means ‘son of John’. John derives from Latin ‘Johannes’ or Hebrew ‘Yohanan’, meaning ‘Yahweh has favoured’.
This surname has a Welsh origin. It has evolved from Hebrew ‘Yehohanan’ or ‘Johan’, which means ‘son of loan’.
Juana’s diminutive form, Juanita has a Spanish or Hebrew origin. It means ‘God is Gracious’.
Derived from the German ‘kit’, it means ‘offspring’.
Derived from Irish O’Cinneide, it means ‘helmet head’. It is also the anglicised form of the Gaelic name Ó Ceannéidigh, meaning “descendant of Ceannéidigh”.
An English variant of the Germanic ‘Kaiser’ or Latin ‘Caesar’, this name was used as a nickname for someone with an imperious manner or who played the part of an emperor in a play.
Derived from Old English ‘Cyning’, meaning ‘tribal leader’, this surname is a sept of the Mac Gregor or Clan Gregor.
Derived from Middle English ‘Kychene’, it is an occupational name for someone who worked in or was in charge of a monastery or great house’s kitchen.
Lainis has a Hawaiian origin and means ‘shining brightly’.
Originating from the Old High German ‘Leonhard’ and Latin ‘Leo’, Leonard means ‘lion-hearted’.
Lois has a French origin, and it means ‘wise’ or ‘more desirable’.
Mabel has an Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning ‘lovable’.
Madison has an English origin, and it means ‘the son of Maud’ or ‘the son of Maddy’.
Martinez is a patronymic surname of Spanish origin. It means ‘the son of Martin’.
Derived from Mildđryđ or Mildthryth, this name has an Old English origin. It means ‘gentle strength’.
This topographic surname has Welsh, Jewish, and English origins. It refers to someone who lived by an ash tree.
Derived from German Neu or Old English ‘ewe’, this is a topographic last name for someone who lived by a yew tree.
This English surname means ‘the son of Nicholas’.
This English locational surname is derived from the words ‘north’ and ‘wood’, referring to someone who lived near the forest.
This Old English habitational name is composed of the words ‘oak’, and ‘Leah’, which means ‘wood’. Thus the name means ‘meadow of oak trees’.
This Old English surname is a habitational name. It is composed of the words ‘ac’, meaning ‘oak’, and ‘denu’, meaning ‘valley’.
A derivative of the German ‘Ohm’ and ‘Ohme’, Omega has a Greek origin, and it means ‘the end’.
An anglicised variant of the Welsh name ‘Owain’, Owen means ‘noble’.
Perkins has an Anglo-Saxon origin and means ‘kin of Pierre’.
A variant of Quigley, Quigg is derived from Gaelic O Coigligh. It denotes a person with unkempt hair. It is also an anglicised form of Irish O’ Cuaig, meaning ‘descendant of Cuaig’.
Rodgers has an English origin, and it means ‘the son of Roger’.
Rodriguez has a Spanish origin. It means ‘the son of Rodrigo’.
The Anglo-Norman Saunders is a pet form of ‘Alexander’, a Greek personal name meaning ‘defender of man’.
Shephard has a Middle English origin, and it means ‘herdsman’.
This English occupational surname means ‘to smite metal’. It refers to a ‘blacksmith’.
Taylor has an English origin, and it means ‘tailor’.
Umbra has a Latin origin, and it means ‘shadow’.
Underwood has an Old English origin. It means ‘below all the trees in a particular forest’.
Villarreal has a Spanish origin, and it means ‘a royal settlement’.
Ward is a topographic surname of Old English or Gaelic origin. It means ‘marsh.’ It is also an occupational surname for ‘civil guard’.
Williams has an English origin. It means ‘protection’. It is also derived from ‘son of William’.
Yeller has a German origin, and it means ‘farmer’.
This German topographic surname refers to someone who lived by the forest.
Classic southern last names show the historical trend of the anglicisation of ethnic surnames by European immigrants to enter the American mainstream. They have been mainly popularised by the characters represented in great TV shows and movies worldwide. Hence, get creative and choose a meaningful Southern surname for your child that would add glory to his personality and represent your family values.