Origins Of Surnames

Oliver Zinn, Reporter

Most surnames are derived from occupations. For example, the last names Farmer, Smith, bishop, Booker, Kirk, Baker, Seller, Wells and Butcher are all names given to families of farmers, blacksmiths, bishops, bookkeepers, people who work in churches (churches are called kirks in Scotland), merchants, well-workers, and butchers. Other last names like London and York are given to families who are from those places. This was done so that if, let’s say, that there are two men named Peter living in a small Proventil town they could be differentiated. So the Peter who is from Yorkshire could be called Peter of York and the Peter who works at the well could be called “Peter of the well”. Eventually overtime these titles were abbreviated into surnames so now we would call them “Peter York” and “Peter Wells”.