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100 Vintage Victorian Last Names: From Edgy to Elegant

Updated
Follow our unique guide to memorable Victorian last names that have staying power.

There are few traditions as storied as Victorian last names. They arose in a place and time when tradition and formality were part of everyday life. Do you really know the details that surround these refined Victorian surnames?

Our clear guide has all the facts, plus entertaining histories and stories of what went into these historical names. Meanings and pronunciations aside, you’ll know who the most famous namesakes were, plus variations on the names themselves.


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100 Popular Victorian Surnames

These old-timey Victorian last names may be as posh as an afternoon of high tea and crumpets.

Algernon

Algernon comes from the French Aux Gernons, meaning “with mustaches.” Algernon is the name of Oscar Wilde’s character in The Importance of Being Earnest.

  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: Mustached man
  • Pronunciation: AEL-jher-Naan
  • Variations: Algenon
  • Popularity: Algernon is extremely rare worldwide and mostly used in Venezuela.
Nicknames, Posh

Allan

Allan is based on the Irish “aluinn,” meaning “handsome” and “cheerful.” It’s been around since the Middle Ages until becoming a well-known Victorian last name and boy’s name.

  • Origin: Celtic, English
  • Meaning: Fair, handsome
  • Pronunciation: AEL-aen
  • Variations: Allen, Allin
  • Namesakes: Marcus Allan, an Australian rules footballer for Claremont. Mea Allan, a Scottish journalist for the Glasgow Herald.
  • Popularity: Allan is uncommon worldwide, mainly used in England, and ranked 41st in Scotland in 2014.
Traditional, Common

Archer

Archer is taken from the Middle English “archere,” an occupational name for a “bowman.”The Old French “archier” came to England and replaced Bowman in the 14th century.

  • Origin: English, Celtic
  • Meaning: Bowman
  • Pronunciation: AARCH-ehr
  • Variations: Archar, Archere, Archor
  • Namesakes: Anne Archer, an American actress named Miss Golden Globe in 1971. Joey Archer, an American boxer who defeated Sugar Ray Robinson in 1965.
  • Popularity: Archer is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the Philippines.
Occupational, Noble

Ashdown

Ashdown was first for those from the area of Ashdown, in Sussex. It’s made up of the Old English “æscen,” meaning “growing with ash trees,” and “dūn,” meaning “hill.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Village in Essex
  • Pronunciation: ASH-Douwn
  • Variations: Ashdowne, Ashdoun
  • Namesakes: Doug Ashdown, an Australian singer-songwriter whose song “Winter in America” reached No. 13 on the Dutch Singles Chart in 1978. Paddy Ashdown, a British Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999.
  • Popularity: Ashdown is rare worldwide, primarily used in England, and ranked 539th in Guernsey in 2014.
Geographical, Unique

Bagley

Bagley is a place name in Berkshire, England. The Old English “baggiley” means “high ground” for those who resided in the mountainous wood.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Of Bagley
  • Pronunciation: BAG-Liy
  • Variations: Bagly
  • Namesakes: Ross Bagley, an American actor appearing in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. John J. Bagley, the 16th governor of Michigan from 1873 to 1877.
  • Popularity: Bagley is rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S., ranking 1,899th in 2014.
Old, Geographical

Barton

Barton is inspired by multiple places across England called Barton. It derives from the Old English “bær,” meaning “barley,” and “tun,” meaning “enclosure.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Barley settlement
  • Pronunciation: BAAR-Tahn
  • Variations: Bartan, Barten
  • Namesakes: Fred Barton, an American composer, and a 1985 Drama Desk Award winner. Chris Barton, an American children’s author of the Junior Library Guild selection Shark vs. Train (2010).
  • Popularity: Barton is uncommon worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 239th in England in 2014.
Traditional, Common

Beechworth

Beechworth is a town in Victoria, Australia, named after a town in England in 1853. It may indicate an area where the medieval Betchworth Castle exists in Surrey.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Unknown
  • Pronunciation: BEECH-wurth
Rare, Geographical

Bennett

Bennett initially referred to a “descendent of Bennet.” The medieval form of the name was Benedict, although it’s also related to the French Benet.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Bennett
  • Pronunciation: BEHN-eht
  • Variations: Benett, Benet
  • Namesakes: Spencer Gordon Bennet, an American filmmaker known as the “King of Serial Directors.” Naftali Bennett, the 13th prime minister of Israel from 2021 to 2022.
  • Popularity: Bennett ranked 996th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 41st in Jamaica in 2014.
Patronymic, Popular

Bentley

Bentley was first used for those who lived in various locations named Bentley. It refers to “the field of Benedict,” meaning “woodland clearing.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Field of Benedict
  • Pronunciation: BEHNT-Liy
  • Variations: Bentleah, Bentleigh
  • Namesakes: Christine Bentley, a Canadian news anchor on CTV News since 1977. Wesley Bentley, an American actor best known for American Beauty (1999).
  • Popularity: Bentley is rare worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 193rd in Fiji in 2014.
Geographical, Rare

Berkeley

Though believed to be a place name in England, Berkeley is associated with Thomas de Berkeley, the Lord of Berkeley Castle, who descended from the Vikings.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Birch tree meadow
  • Pronunciation: BEHRK-Liy
  • Namesakes: Mary Berkeley, an English long jumper and silver medalist at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. Xander Berkeley, an American actor appearing in Heat (1995).
  • Popularity: Berkeley is very rare worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 359th in Vanuatu in 2014.
Traditional, Geographical
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Bertrand

Bertrand means “the son of Bertram” and is also the French variant of Bertram. It’s made up of the Old English “beraht,” meaning “intelligent” and “hramn,” meaning “raven.”

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Bright raven
  • Pronunciation: BAHR-Trahnd
  • Variations: Bertram
  • Namesakes: Léon Bertrand, the French mayor of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni from 1983 to 2018. Plastic Bertrand, a Belgian musician known for the 1977 song “Ça plane pour moi.”
  • Popularity: Bertrand is uncommon worldwide and mostly used in France, ranking 25th in 2014.
Patronymic, Unique

Blackwood

Blackwood is one of the most literal Victorian surnames that means “black wood.” One of the first historical figures with the name was William de Blackwood in 1327 Stirlingshire.

  • Origin: English, Scottish
  • Meaning: Blackwood
  • Pronunciation: BLACK-Wud
  • Variations: Blackwode, Blakewood
  • Namesakes: Lady Caroline Blackwood, an English writer and the 4th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. Vasta Blackwood, a British actor appearing in The Lenny Henry Show (1987).
  • Popularity: Blackwood is rare worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 107th in Jamaica in 2014.
Traditional, Geographical

Bradford

Various places named Bradford exist in England, from Dorset to Northumberland. It also means “a town on the Avon,” where the “broad ford” existed. Bradford was first found in Yorkshire and made its way to the U.S.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Broad ford
  • Pronunciation: BRAED-Faord
  • Variations: Bradforde, Bradfurd
  • Namesakes: Charles Bradford, an American baseball player for the Chicago White Sox. Cornelia Smith Bradford, an American newspaper editor and one of 11 American female printers before the American Revolution.
  • Popularity: Bradford is rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S., where it ranked 549th in 2014.
Geographical, Common

Brown

Brown comes from the Middle English “br(o)un,” taken from “brun,” meaning “brown.” It indicated someone with brownish eyes, hair, or complexion.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Brown (color)
  • Pronunciation: BROUWN
  • Variations: Broun, Browne
  • Namesakes: Alton Brown, an American TV host of the Food Network show Good Eats. Christy Brown, an Irish writer with cerebral palsy whose life story was made into the 1989 film My Left Foot.
  • Popularity: Brown ranked 206th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 2nd in Canada and Scotland in 2019.
Popular, Traditional

Burton

Like many Victorian family names, Burton was first used for a specific location. Over 29 places called Burton exist in England, so it doesn’t have historical meaning other than referring to a place.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: A town in Leicestershire
  • Pronunciation: BER-Tahn
  • Variations: Burtan, Burten, Burtun
  • Namesakes: Richard Burton, a Welsh actor nominated for an Academy Award seven times. Joan Burton, an Irish Leader of the Labor Party from 2014 to 2016.
  • Popularity: Burton is uncommon worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 126th in England in 2014.
Geographical, Unique

Butler

Butler may be related to the French Boutilier, but it’s best known as an occupational name for a servant. It may also mean “the bottle maker,” one of the more vintage jobs around.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Servant
  • Pronunciation: BUHT-Ler
  • Variations: Buttler
  • Namesakes: Torrey Butler, an American basketball player named the Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year in 2003. W.E. Butler, an English founder of Servants of the Light.
  • Popularity: Butler ranked 1,264th worldwide, is primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 60th in Ireland in 2014.
Occupational, Common

Cavendish

Cavendish also means “caves-hollow” when taken from the Old English Cafna, a first name. The Cavendishes were a noble family in Suffolk, including the Duke of Devonshire.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Cave
  • Pronunciation: CAA-ven-Dish
  • Variations: Cavandish, Cavondish
  • Namesakes: Mark Cavendish, a British road racing cyclist for UCI WorldTeam Astana Qazaqstan Team. William Henry Cavendish, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1807 to 1809).
  • Popularity: Cavendish is very rare worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 352nd in the Isle of Man in 2014.
Noble, Old

Chambers

Chambers denoted a house servant working in the owner’s private “chambers.” Chambers is associated with the title Chamberlain and is one of many British last names with French roots.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Servant
  • Pronunciation: CHAYM-Berhz
  • Namesakes: Becky Chambers, an American science fiction writer of the Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series. Dwain Chambers, a British track sprinter and the youngest world medalist at the 1999 World Championships.
  • Popularity: Chambers is uncommon worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 60th in Jamaica in 2014.
Occupational, Traditional

Chattaway

Chattaway was a family name for people living around Chitaway in Wiltshire, England. It comes from the Old English “chat,” meaning “forest,” and “weg,” meaning “path.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Forest path
  • Pronunciation: CHAA-tah-Way
  • Variations: Chataway
  • Namesakes: Frederick Chattaway, a British Fellow of the Royal Society in 1907. Jay Chattaway, an American composer known for his work on the Star Trek series.
  • Popularity: Chattaway is very rare worldwide and primarily used in England.
Geographical, Uncommon

Chrysanthia

Chrysanthia is one of the few Greek-inspired English last names. In Greek mythology, Chrysanthis was associated with the goddess Demeter, but this name’s Victorian popularity may relate to flower girl names of the age.

  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Golden flower
  • Pronunciation: Krih-SAEN-thiy-Ah
  • Variations: Chrysanthus
Unusual, Old
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Clark

Clark was an occupational title for “a clerk,” which also became “clergyman.” It’s also a variation of the Gaelic Mac Cleireach, meaning “son of the cleric.”

  • Origin: English, Gaelic
  • Meaning: Clerk
  • Pronunciation: KLAARK
  • Variations: Clarke
  • Namesakes: Steve Clark, an English musician, and guitarist for Def Leppard. Tom Clark, a Canadian reporter for CTV National News.
  • Popularity: Clark ranked 545th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 14th in Scotland in 2014.
Occupational, Popular

Cook

Cook was an English surname first used for an actual “cook” or for someone who sold meat. It goes back to the Latin “cocus,” also meaning “cook.” Cook is also an Anglo version of the German Koch.

  • Origin: English, Latin
  • Meaning: Cook (occupation)
  • Pronunciation: KUHK
  • Variations: Cooke
  • Namesakes: Alastair Cook, an English cricketer for Essex County Cricket Club. Peter Cook, the English comedian partner to Dudley Moore.
  • Popularity: Cook ranked 918th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 52nd in Australia in 2014.
Occupational, Popular

Corbett

Corbett originates in France and dates back to the Latin “corvus,” meaning “raven.” It was a nickname for someone with dark hair or complexion and also relates to Corvin.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Raven
  • Pronunciation: KAOR-Beht
  • Variations: Corbet, Corbit
  • Namesakes: John Corbett, an American actor appearing in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). Sarah Corbett, a British poet, and winner of the Eric Gregory Award in 1998.
  • Popularity: Corbett is rare worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 323rd in New Zealand in 2014.
Unique, Nicknames

Courtenay

Courtenay is one of the French-influenced Victorian era last names, from “de Courtenay” in France. The House of Courtenay was a noble English-French family with members including Earls of Devon.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Courteous
  • Pronunciation: COHR-teh-Naey
  • Variations: Courteney, Courtney
  • Namesakes: Vernon Harrison Courtenay, the Belize Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1983 to 1984.
  • Popularity: Courtenay is very rare worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 1,180th in Belize in 2014.
Unusual, Geographical

Crawford

Crawford was first used for those living in Crawford, in Northern Britain. It also means “crossing of blood” when taken from the Gaelic “cru,” meaning “bloody.”

  • Origin: English, Gaelic
  • Meaning: Crossing of blood
  • Pronunciation: CRAUW-furd
  • Variations: Crawfford
  • Namesakes: Cindy Crawford, an American model and supermodel of the 1990s appearing in Vogue. Vernon Crawford, an American football player for the New England Patriots.
  • Popularity: Crawford ranked 1,811st worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 46th in Northern Ireland in 2014.
Geographical, Common

Davenport

Davenport is a town in East Cheshire, England, but is also derived from the Gaelic Ó Donndubhartaigh, meaning “descendant of Donndubhartach.” It means “brown-haired chieftain or nobleman,” which brings an elegant feel to an old-timey name.

  • Origin: English, Irish
  • Meaning: Brown-haired man
  • Pronunciation: DAH-vehn-Port
  • Variations: Davinport
  • Namesakes: Lindsay Davenport, an American tennis player and the singles world No. 1 in 2005. Marcia Davenport, an American writer known for the 1932 biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
  • Popularity: Davenport is rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S., ranking 538th in 2014.
Geographical, Noble

Dewitt

Dewitt is a Dutch and Flemish nickname for a fair-haired person or one with a pale complexion. Dewitt represents a more Americanized spelling of the original De Wit, meaning “the white one.”

  • Origin: Dutch, Flemish
  • Meaning: The blond one
  • Pronunciation: Deh-WITT
  • Variations: Dewit, Dewytt
  • Namesakes: Rosemarie DeWitt, an American actress, and granddaughter of former World Heavyweight Champion James J. Braddock. David M. De Witt, a U.S. Representative for New York from 1873 to 1875.
  • Popularity: Dewitt is rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S., where it ranked 1,266th in 2014.
Unique, Nicknames

Ellington

Ellington comes from the Old English name Ella and “tūn,” meaning “farmstead.” There is no other Ellington more famous than Duke, but it’s beginning to gain traction as a modern boy’s name.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Ellis’ town
  • Pronunciation: EH-Lihng-Tahn
  • Variations: Elkinton
  • Namesakes: Edward “Duke” Ellington, an American jazz pianist and leader of the Duke Ellington jazz orchestra. Erik Ellington, an American skateboarder, and co-founder of Supra footwear in 2006.
  • Popularity: Ellington is rare worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 499th in Jamaica in 2014.
Geographical, Uncommon

Elmore

Elmore means “the son of Elmer,” when referring to descendants, but also means “elm ridge” to describe an English locale. Elmore also means “noble” and “famous” for those lucky enough to have the name.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Elm ridge
  • Pronunciation: EHL-Maor
  • Variations: Ellmor, Ellmore
  • Namesakes: Christopher Elmore, a Welsh member of Parliament since 2016. Jake Elmore, an American baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Popularity: Elmore is rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S., where it ranked 1,305th in 2014.
Patronymic, Unique

Emerson

Emerson derives from the Old English “Emars sunu,” meaning “son of Emar.” Emerson has many patronymic meanings, including “son of Emery” for the many descendants worldwide.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Emery
  • Pronunciation: EHM-eh-Sahn
  • Namesakes: Willis George Emerson, an American novelist who founded the town of Encampment, Wyoming. Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist most known for Self-Reliance.
  • Popularity: Emerson is rare worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 631st in Northern Ireland in 2014.
Patronymic, Traditional
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Enfield

Enfield is a geographical example of Victorian last names with a locale in mind, this one in Middlesex. An 11th-century manor of Enfield (called Enfelde) belonged to a powerful Norman family.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Ēana’s open land
  • Pronunciation: EHN-feeld
  • Variations: Enfeld, Endfield
  • Namesakes: Henry Enfield, an English comedian known for Harry Enfield’s Television Programme. Michael Enfield, an American soccer player for SP Barcelona.
  • Popularity: Enfield is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Unique, Uncommon

Evans

Evans is a patronymic surname for “the son of Evan.” Evan (and the original Ieuan) is the Welsh variation of John and ranked 48th in the U.S. in 2019.

  • Origin: Welsh
  • Meaning: Son of Evan
  • Pronunciation: EH-Vahnz
  • Variations: Evan, Evens
  • Namesakes: David Evans (known as the Edge), an English-Irish musician and guitarist for U2. Linda Evans, an American actress known for the soap opera Dynasty.
  • Popularity: Evans ranked 655th worldwide, is primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 4th in Wales in 2014.
Patronymic, Popular

Fairfax

Fairfax literally means “with the fair fax,” another way to say someone has beautiful locks of hair. It derives from the Middle English “fair fax,” meaning “beautiful tresses,” and comes from Northumberland.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Fair-haired
  • Pronunciation: FEHR-Faeks
  • Variations: Farefax
  • Namesakes: Justin Fairfax, the 41st lieutenant governor of Virginia from 2018 to 2022. John Fairfax, an English poet and founder of the Arvon Foundation in 1968.
  • Popularity: Fairfax is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Nicknames

Fletcher

Fletcher began as an occupation title called “the fletcher,” meaning “arrow-maker.” It was for those who added feathers to the arrows and is considered one of the main Regency surnames of the 18th-century.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Arrow-maker
  • Pronunciation: FLEH-Cher
  • Variations: Flesher
  • Namesakes: Andrew Fletcher, an English musician and founding member of Depeche Mode. Alan Fletcher, an Australian actor appearing on the soap opera Neighbors.
  • Popularity: Fletcher is uncommon worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 101st in England in 2014.
Occupational, Traditional

Franklin

Franklin is based on the Middle English “frankelin,” influenced by the French “franc,” meaning “free.” In the Middle Ages, it was a title of a free landowner with noble lineage beneath a knight or official noble.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Free man
  • Pronunciation: FRAENGK-Lihn
  • Variations: Franklyn
  • Namesakes: Aretha Franklin, an American singer ranked 9th in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” Scott Franklin, a Canadian rugby union player for the Canadian national team.
  • Popularity: Franklin is uncommon worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 138th in Chad in 2014.
Noble, Old

Furman

Furman was used for a “driver of a horse-drawn carriage.” It has German, Jewish, and Slavic origins, which uses the root “fir,” meaning “strong,” and “man(n),” meaning “worker.”

  • Origin: German, Polish
  • Meaning: Garter
  • Pronunciation: FEHR-Maen
  • Variations: Fuhrmann
  • Namesakes: Simon Furman, a British comic book writer known for Hasbro’s Transformers franchise. Dmitri Furman, a Russian political scientist and author of Our Last Ten Years (2001).
  • Popularity: Furman is rare worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 533rd in Poland in 2014.
Unique, Occupational

Godwin

Like many Victorian surnames, Godwin is familial and means “the son of Godwin.” It’s one of the oldest family names in Britain to go unaltered after the 1066 Norman Conquest.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: God’s friend
  • Pronunciation: GAOD-Wihn
  • Variations: Goodwin
  • Namesakes: Frank Godwin, an English film producer known for Woman in a Dressing Gown. Paul Godwin, a Polish violinist and leader of the Tanz-Orchester Paul Godwin between 1926 and 1933.
  • Popularity: Godwin ranked 1,859th worldwide and is mainly used in Nigeria, ranking 106th in 2014.
Patronymic, Noble

Grantham

Grantham refers to a town in Lincolnshire, England, and consists of the Old English “hām,” meaning “homestead.” The other root element is “grand,” meaning “gravel.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: of Grantham
  • Pronunciation: GRANTH-uhm
  • Variations: Grantam
  • Namesakes: George Grantham, an American drummer with the country rock band Poco. George Grantham, an American baseball player for the Chicago Cubs.
  • Popularity: Grantham is rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Geographical, Uncommon

Green

Green is a common surname meaning “at the green” and is one of multiple English last names with Norse origins. Green was often given to someone who lived near “a village green” and appears as Greene in Ireland.

  • Origin: English, Norse
  • Meaning: Grassy area
  • Pronunciation: GRIYN
  • Variations: Greene
  • Namesakes: Jaine Green, a British documentary maker and Head of Content at Discover.film. Joey Green, an American contributing editor to National Lampoon.
  • Popularity: Green ranked 634th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 17th in England in 2014.
Traditional, Popular

Griffiths

Griffiths is an English version of the Welsh Gruffudd. It’s composed of the Old Welsh “grip,” whose meaning is unknown, and “iud,” meaning “chief lord.”

  • Origin: English, Welsh
  • Meaning: Strong chief
  • Pronunciation: GRIH-Fihths
  • Variations: Griffith, Gryffyths
  • Namesakes: Brynllyn Griffiths, a Welsh poet and founder of the Welsh Writers’ Guild. Terry Griffiths, a New South Wales government minister from 1991 to 1994.
  • Popularity: Griffiths is uncommon worldwide, mainly used in England, and ranked 10th in Wales in 2014.
Strong, Old
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Hal

Hal comes from the Old German “halla,” meaning “manor.” By the 1700s and 1800s, it referred to someone living near a hall or who worked at a manor house.

  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: At the hale
  • Pronunciation: HHAEL
  • Variations: Halle
  • Popularity: Hal is rare worldwide, primarily used in India, and ranked 1,300th in Cambodia in 2014.
Unique, Rare

Hardin

Hardin also means a “descendent of Harding” or “the son of Hard.” The Old English Harding means “brave” and “strong,” so any descendants of Hardin are surely tough guys.

  • Origin: English, Gaelic
  • Meaning: Descendent of Hardwin
  • Pronunciation: HHAAR-Din
  • Variations: Harden, Harding
  • Namesakes: Jerry Hardin, an American actor appearing in The X-Files. Julia Hardin, an All-American Girls Baseball League player for the Grand Rapids Chicks in 1940.
  • Popularity: Hardin is rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S., where it ranked 765th in 2014.
Patronymic, Unique

Harris

Since Harris means “son of Harry,” it also refers to the medieval Henry, meaning “home-ruler.” It’s been around since the 1300s and survived the Norman conquest’s many new names.

  • Origin: English, Irish
  • Meaning: Son of Harry
  • Pronunciation: HHEY-Rihs
  • Variations: Harrison
  • Namesakes: Danielle Harris, an American actress appearing in the Halloween film franchise. James Harris, a Welsh footballer for Swansea City.
  • Popularity: Harris ranked 482nd worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 14th in New Zealand in 2014.
Patronymic, Popular

Havisham

Havisham is best known as a character in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. Its meaning is unknown, but Miss Havisham’s name breaks down to “Have-is-sham,” a social commentary on the shallowness of possessions.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Unknown
  • Pronunciation: HAH-vish-Am
  • Popularity: Havisham is extremely rare worldwide, with just 14 known occurrences in 2014, primarily in the U.S.
Unusual, Rare

Herman

Herman was used to denote an ancestor as “the son of Herman,” referring to the given name. It’s made up of the Old German “heri,” meaning “army,” and “man,” simply meaning “man.”

  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Army’s man
  • Pronunciation: HHEHR-Mahn
  • Variations: Hermann, Herrmann
  • Namesakes: Robin Herman, the first female American sports journalist for The New York Times. David Herman, an American actor on MADtv from 1995 to 1997.
  • Popularity: Herman is uncommon worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 165th in Belgium in 2014.
Strong, Traditional

Hill

Hill was an old-fashioned first name based on Hilary. It derives from the Latin “hilaris,” meaning “cheerful” and “glad,” for the most straightforward of British last names.

  • Origin: English, Scottish
  • Meaning: A person who lived on a hill
  • Pronunciation: HHIHL
  • Variations: Hyll
  • Namesakes: Benny Hill, an English comedian best known for The Benny Hill Show. Henry Hill, an American mobster with the Lucchese crime family from 1955 until 1980.
  • Popularity: Hill ranked 677th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 28th in England in 2014.
Popular, Traditional

Hilliard

Hilliard describes a place name meaning “at the hill-garth” or “hill-yard.” It’s a derivation of Hildiard and the Germanic Hildigard, which may be why Hilliard is still a given name today.

  • Origin: English, Irish
  • Meaning: Battle yard
  • Pronunciation: HHIHL-iiy-Ahrd
  • Variations: Hillard, Hillyard
  • Namesakes: Brent Hilliard, an American volleyball player who competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics. Randy Hilliard, an American football player for the Cleveland Browns.
  • Popularity: Hilliard is rare worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 1,130th in Ireland in 2014.
Geographical, Unique

Howell

Howell is a Welsh name meaning “the son of Hoel.” It’s based on the given name Hywel, meaning “prominent.” Howell’s variations appear as famous Welsh kings like the pre-Gothic Hywel Dda or “Howel the Good.”

  • Origin: Welsh
  • Meaning: Eminent
  • Pronunciation: HHAOW-ehl
  • Variations: Hoell, Howel
  • Namesakes: Henry Howell, a Canadian hockey player for the New York Rangers. Myfanwy Howell, a Welsh language host of Amser Te (Tea Time) in the 1950s.
  • Popularity: Howell is uncommon worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 95th in Barbados in 2014.
Patronymic, Royal

Humphrey

Humphrey originated with the Middle English Humfrey. It’s related to the German Humfrid, made up of “hūn,” meaning “bear cub,” and “frithu,” meaning “peace.”

  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Peaceful warrior
  • Pronunciation: HUMM-Friy
  • Variations: Humfrey, Humphry
  • Namesakes: Jake Humphrey, an English TV presenter and host of Premier League football on BT Sport. Hubert Humphrey, the 38th vice president of the U.S. from 1965 to 1969.
  • Popularity: Humphrey is rare worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 586th in England in 2014.
Posh, Traditional

Innes

Many consider Innes a shorter form of the Scottish McInnis, taken from the Gaelic Mag Aonghuis. The Innes clan existed in Scotland and took their name from Innes in Moray.

  • Origin: Scottish
  • Meaning: One choice
  • Pronunciation: IHN-Ahs
  • Variations: Innis, Inniss
  • Popularity: Innes is rare worldwide and primarily used in Scotland, ranking 171st in 2014.
Unusual, Old
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Jackson

Jackson literally means “the son of Jack,” but Jack is the most famous nickname for John. Its origins can be found in Scotland and Northern England but is now very common among African-Americans.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of John
  • Pronunciation: JHAHK-Sahn
  • Variations: Jaxson
  • Namesakes: Michael Jackson, an American entertainer called the “King of Pop.” Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the U.S. from 1829 to 1837.
  • Popularity: Jackson ranked 383rd worldwide and is mostly used in the U.S., where it ranked 16th in 2014.
Traditional, Patronymic

Jarvis

Jarvis means “the son of Gervase,” which relates to the first name Jarvis. Gervase is made up of the French “geri,” meaning “spear,” and “vaulx,” meaning “valley.”

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Spear
  • Pronunciation: JHAAR-Vihs
  • Variations: Jervis
  • Namesakes: Chris Jarvis, an English actor appearing in the ITV soap opera The Bill from 2005 to 2007. Douglas Jarvis, a Canadian ice hockey player, and four-time Stanley Cup winner.
  • Popularity: Jarvis is rare worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 243rd in Wales in 2014.
Posh, Patronymic

Johnson

Johnson is an example of many Victorian-era “J” last names that have Viking ancestry attached. It means “son of John” and may indicate a “son of Johan” as well.

  • Origin: English, Scandinavian
  • Meaning: Son of John
  • Pronunciation: JHAAN-Sahn
  • Variations: Johnston, Johnsun
  • Namesakes: Darrell Johnson, an American baseball coach of the Boston Red Sox. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK, from 2019 to 2022.
  • Popularity: Johnson ranked 173rd worldwide and is primarily used in the U.S., ranking 2nd in 2014.
Traditional, Popular

Jones

Jones is another name indicating a “son of John,” but this one is Welsh, so it may have come from Ioan. It’s been the top Welsh surname for many generations now.

  • Origin: Welsh
  • Meaning: Son of John
  • Pronunciation: JHOWNZ
  • Namesakes: Jennifer Jones, an American actress known for The Song of Bernadette. Chuck Jones, an American animator best known for the Looney Tunes.
  • Popularity: Jones ranked 208th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked number one in Wales in 2014.
Popular, Traditional

Joyce

Joyce is a variation on the French Jousse, taken from “joyeux,” meaning “joy.” It also has connections to the Latin Iudocus, which became Judoc, meaning “lord.”

  • Origin: Irish, French
  • Meaning: Joy
  • Pronunciation: JHOIYS
  • Variations: Joyes
  • Namesakes: James Joyce, an Irish novelist best known for Ulysses (1922). Yootha Joyce, an English actress appearing in the sitcom Man About the House (1976).
  • Popularity: Joyce is rare worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 122nd in Ireland in 2014.
Posh, Unique

King

King may seem like it was meant for royals when based on the Old English ”cyning,” meaning “tribal leader.” It was also given to anyone portraying a king or working in a royal household.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: King (title)
  • Pronunciation: KIHNG
  • Namesakes: Larry King (born Lawrence Zeiger), an American TV host of Larry King Live on CNN. Stephen King, an American author, called the “King of Horror.”
  • Popularity: King ranked 592nd worldwide, is primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 18th in Australia in 2014.
Strong, Royal

Lester

Lester also means “Roman town” when referring to Leicester, England. The town was named after the Old English Legore, meaning “dwellers by the river Legor” and “ceaster,” meaning “Roman fortification.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From Leicester
  • Pronunciation: LEHST-er
  • Variations: Leicester, Leister
  • Namesakes: Mark L. Lester, an American filmmaker known for Firestarter (1984). Paul Lester, a British music journalist for Melody Maker.
  • Popularity: Lester is rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S., where it ranked 762nd in 2014.
Geographical, Old

Lyman

Lyman was given to someone who lived “near a meadow or a patch of land.” It may be inspired by the Old English “leah,” meaning “glade,” and “mann,” the person to whom the glade belonged.

  • Origin: English, Swedish
  • Meaning: From Lyneham
  • Pronunciation: LAY-Maen
  • Variations: Leman
  • Namesakes: Shelby Lyman, an American chess player and host of the 1972 World Chess Championship. Arthur Lyman, a Hawaiian jazz musician, called “the King of Lounge music.”
  • Popularity: Lyman is rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Geographical, Uncommon

Martin

Martin is one of the multiple Victorian family names for descendants, also based on the Gaelic Mac Mhártain. Martin relates to Mars, the Roman god of war, when it was Martinus.

  • Origin: English, Latin
  • Meaning: Warlike
  • Pronunciation: MAAR-Tahn
  • Variations: Marten
  • Namesakes: Steve Martin, an American comedian awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 2013. Chris Martin, an English musician and lead singer of Coldplay.
  • Popularity: Martin ranked 207th worldwide, is primarily used in the U.S., and ranked number one in France in 2014.
Traditional, Popular

Merton

Merton was well-known in the 19th-century but dates back to the 10th-century. It means “farmstead by the pool” as the name of a farming estate’s location.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Town by the lake
  • Pronunciation: MEHR-tun
  • Variations: Merten, Myrton
  • Namesakes: Thomas Merton, an American writer best known for The Seven Storey Mountain (1948). Robert C. Merton, an American winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1997.
  • Popularity: Merton is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Unique, Uncommon
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Moore

Moore refers to an English “moor” or “heath.” It also means “open land” or “bog” in Gaelic. As an Irish surname, Moore means “stately” and “noble” and ranked 16th in the U.S. in 2019.

  • Origin: English, Gaelic
  • Meaning: At the moor
  • Pronunciation: MUHR
  • Variations: Moor
  • Namesakes: Christy Moore, an Irish folk singer, named Ireland’s greatest living musician in RTÉ’s People of the Year Awards in 2007. Julianne Moore, an American actress known for The Hours (2002).
  • Popularity: Moore ranked 739th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 7th in Northern Ireland in 2014.
Geographical, Popular

Morgan

Morgan means “sea song” and “sea circle” when taken from the Welsh given name Morcant. It’s more common as a boy’s name than a typical Victorian last name beginning with M.

  • Origin: Welsh
  • Meaning: Sea-born
  • Pronunciation: MOWR-Gahn
  • Variations: Morganne, Morgane
  • Namesakes: Dermot Morgan, an Irish comedian best known for the sitcom Father Ted. Ted Morgan, a New Zealand boxer and gold medalist at the 1928 Summer Olympics.
  • Popularity: Morgan ranked 844th worldwide, is primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 9th in Wales in 2014.
Popular, Old

Morris

Morris is an alternative to Maurice, meaning “Moor” or “one from Mauritania.” Morris was used to denote a Muslim living in Europe, while it ranked 54th in the U.S. in 2019.

  • Origin: English, Latin
  • Meaning: Son of Maurice
  • Pronunciation: MAOR-ihs
  • Variations: Morriss, Moris
  • Namesakes: Irvin Morris, a Navajo Nation author of From the Glittering World: A Navajo Story (1997). Callum Morris, an English footballer for Morpeth Town.
  • Popularity: Morris ranked 805th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 18th in Wales in 2019.
Patronymic, Nicknames

Neville

Neville referred to the town of Neville in Normandy or Neuville, another locale in France. The House of Neville was once a powerful medieval family in England.

  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: New town
  • Pronunciation: NEYV-ihl
  • Variations: Nevill
  • Namesakes: Anita Neville, the 26th lieutenant governor of Manitoba since 2022. Charles Neville, an American musician, and member of The Neville Brothers.
  • Popularity: Neville is rare worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 471st in Ireland in 2014.
Geographical, Noble

Newton

Like many Victorian surnames beginning with N, Newton denoted those from the place with the same name. It comes from the Old English “neowa,” meaning “new,” and “tun, meaning “settlement.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: New settlement
  • Pronunciation: NUW-Tahn
  • Variations: Newdon
  • Namesakes: Paula Newton, a Canadian news correspondent with CNN. Wayne Newton, an American entertainer known for “Danke Schoen” (1963).
  • Popularity: Newton is uncommon worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 156th in England in 2014.
Old, Geographical

Norris

Norris indicated the man from “the Noreis” or the north. It was meant for a Northerner, Norseman, or Viking who came to live in places like Normandy.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Northerner
  • Pronunciation: NAOR-Rihs
  • Variations: Norres
  • Namesakes: Joshua Norris, an American ice hockey player for the Ottawa Senators. Paul Norris, an American comic book artist and co-creator of the DC Comics superhero Aquaman.
  • Popularity: Norris is uncommon worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 311th in England in 2014.
Nicknames, Unique

Osborn

Osborn means “the son of Osbern” when derived from the Old Norse Asbjorn. It’s made up of “as,” meaning “god,” and “bjorn,” meaning “bear.”

  • Origin: English, Norse
  • Meaning: God bear
  • Pronunciation: AAZ-Baorn
  • Variations: Osborne, Osbourn, Osburn
  • Namesakes: Paul Osborn, an American screenwriter who wrote East of Eden (1955). William H. Osborn, an American railroad tycoon and head of the Chicago Railroad.
  • Popularity: Obborn is rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S., ranking 1,004th in 2014.
Patronymic, Strong

Philbert

Philbert was first a given name based on the Germanic Filuberht, meaning “greatly illustrious.” It’s inspired by Filebey, a place meaning “village of a man called Fili,” and often appears as Philibert.

  • Origin: German, French
  • Meaning: Very bright
  • Pronunciation: FIHL-Berht
  • Variations: Filbert
  • Namesakes: Phillippe Rebille Philbert, a 17th-century French flutist and court musician to King Louis XIV.
  • Popularity: Philbert is rare worldwide, primarily used in Tanzania, and ranked 100th in Grenada in 2014.
Unusual, Geographical

Phillips

Phillips is a patronymic example among Victorian family names and means “the son of Philip.” It ranked 46th in the U.S. in 2019 and is inspired by Phillip, meaning “friend of horses.”

  • Origin: English, Welsh
  • Meaning: Lover of horses
  • Pronunciation: FIHL-ihps
  • Variations: Philips, Phillip
  • Namesakes: Dwight Phillips, an American long-jumper and the 2004 Olympic champion. Kathleen Phillips, a Canadian actress appearing in the comedy series Sunnyside.
  • Popularity: Phillips ranked 819th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 17th in Wales in 2019.
Patronymic, Popular

Pierce

Pierce also means “the son of Peter” since Piers is the medieval version, meaning “stone.” Whether for Piers or Peter, Pierce is meant for the descendants of the old people in the family.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Son of Piers
  • Pronunciation: PIHRZ
  • Variations: Pearse, Peirce
  • Namesakes: Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the U.S. from 1853 to 1857. Jason Pierce, an English musician, and member of the band Spiritualized.
  • Popularity: Pierce is uncommon worldwide and mainly used in the U.S., where it ranked 199th in 2014.
Patronymic, Posh
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Price

Price is an English variation on the Welsh “Ap-Rice,” meaning “son of Rees.” It rated 84th among U.S. surnames in 2019.

  • Origin: English, Welsh
  • Meaning: Son of Rhys
  • Pronunciation: PRIHS
  • Variations: Pryce, Pryse
  • Namesakes: Tom Pryce, a Welsh-British racing driver and winner of the 1975 Brands Hatch Race of Champions. Dorothy Price, an Irish physician who introduced the BCG vaccine to Ireland for treating tuberculosis.
  • Popularity: Price ranked 1,181st worldwide, is primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 17th in Wales in 2014.
Traditional, Common

Pryor

Pryor comes from the Old English “prior,” a title for a church prior. A prior was originally the head of a convent but has come a long way.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Prior (title)
  • Pronunciation: PRAEY-er
  • Variations: Prior
  • Namesakes: Richard Pryor, an American stand-up comedian who won the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 1998. Anduele Pryor, a Dutch footballer for Vitesse.
  • Popularity: Pryor is rare worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 1,034th in Australia in 2014.
Occupational, Unique

Roberts

Roberts is another patronymic name meaning “the son of Robert.” It originated with the personal name Robert, made up of the German “hrod,” meaning “renown” and “beraht,” meaning “bright.”

  • Origin: Welsh, German
  • Meaning: Bright renown
  • Pronunciation: RAAB-ehrts
  • Variations: Robert
  • Namesakes: Cokie Roberts, an American journalist for National Public Radio. Shevyn Roberts, an American singer, and winner of the Hollywood Music in Media Award in 2013.
  • Popularity: Roberts ranked 636th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 6th in Wales in 2014.
Popular, Traditional

Robinson

Robinson means “son of Robert” or “son of Robin,” which is a diminutive for Robert. It originated in Yorkshire and Northern England but exists everywhere in the world today.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Son of Robin
  • Pronunciation: RAA-bahn-Sahn
  • Variations: Robbinson
  • Namesakes: Jackie Robinson, an American baseball player and the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. Tony Robinson, an English actor known for the BBC series Blackadder.
  • Popularity: Robinson ranked 533rd worldwide, is primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 10th in England in 2014.
Patronymic, Popular

Royce

Royce was also a “R” surname for someone who lived among wild roses. It was also a nickname for anyone from a young man to an old lady with a “rosy” complexion.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Son of Royse
  • Pronunciation: ROYSS
  • Variations: Roys, Royse
  • Namesakes: Henry Royce, an English engineer who co-founded Rolls-Royce. Mike Royce, an American screenwriter for Everybody Loves Raymond.
  • Popularity: Royce is rare worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 1,429th in Yemen in 2014.
Posh, Unique

Rudolph

Rudolph was first a given name originating with the German Hrodwulf. It’s composed of the German “hruod,” meaning “fame,” and “wolf,” for the fierce animal, adding an edgy quality.

  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Famous wolf
  • Pronunciation: ROOW-Duhlf
  • Variations: Ruddolf, Ruddolph
  • Namesakes: Maya Rudolph, an American actress appearing on Saturday Night Live between 2000 and 2007. Vernon Rudolph, an American businessman who founded Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
  • Popularity: Rudolph is rare worldwide and mainly used in Germany, ranking 164th in 2014.
Traditional, Strong

Shaw

Shaw was given to someone in England who lived “at the shaw,” or near a wooded area. It’s based on the Old English “sceaga,” meaning “dweller by the wood.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Dweller by the wood
  • Pronunciation: SHAOW
  • Variations: Shawe
  • Namesakes: Brian Shaw, an American assistant basketball coach for the Los Angeles Clippers. Caroline Shaw, an American composer, and winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
  • Popularity: Shaw ranked 679th worldwide, is primarily used in India, and ranked 55th in England in 2014.
Geographical, Popular

Sherman

Sherman is an occupational surname for someone who was a “shearer of woolen garments.” It’s made up of the Old English “scearra,” meaning “shears,” and “mann,” meaning “man.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Shearer
  • Pronunciation: SHER-Mahn
  • Variations: Scherman, Schermann
  • Namesakes: Buren R. Sherman, the 12th Governor of Iowa from 1882 to 1886. Gary Sherman, an American film director known for Poltergeist III.
  • Popularity: Sherman is uncommon worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 122nd in Liberia in 2014.
Occupational, Traditional

Smith

Smith derives from the Old English “smitan,” from “smite,” meaning “to strike.” It was used by a metalworker and, in 2014, also ranked #1 in England, Canada, Australia, and Scotland.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Metalworker
  • Pronunciation: SMIHTH
  • Variations: Smithe, Smythe
  • Namesakes: Elliott Smith, an American musician on the soundtrack for the film Good Will Hunting (1997). Jada Pinkett Smith, an American actress named one of the 100 most influential people in 2021.
  • Popularity: Smith ranked 130th worldwide and is mainly used in the U.S., where it ranked #1 in 2019.
Occupational, Popular

Spencer

Spencer comes from the Middle English “spenser,” meaning “butler.” It was first an official title for a “house steward” in charge of the spence or a “court title dispenser.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Steward
  • Pronunciation: SPEHN-Ser
  • Variations: Spensar, Spenser
  • Namesakes: Diana, Princess of Wales (born Diana Spencer), a member of the British royal family and the first wife of King Charles III. Phil Spencer, an English co-presenter of the Channel 4 show Location, Location, Location.
  • Popularity: Spencer ranked 1,948th worldwide, is primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 92nd in Jamaica in 2014.
Occupational, Posh
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Stillingfleet

Stillingfleet is as old as the 11th-century and was a place name meaning “stretch of river of a man called Styfel.” Stillingfleet is located near York, England, and is hard to find among British last names today.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: From Stillingfleet
  • Pronunciation: STIHL-ing-FLEET
  • Namesakes: James Stillingfleet, the English Dean of Worcester from 1726 to 1746. Edward Stillingfleet, a 17th-century English theologian and author of Unreasonableness of Separation.
  • Popularity: Stillingfleet is extremely rare worldwide, with just 31 known occurrences in 2014, mostly in England.
Geographical, Rare

Taylor

Taylor is based on the Old French “tailleur,” meaning “a cutter of cloth.” It was used for tailors and their descendants and is now a common given name for boys and girls.

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Tailor
  • Pronunciation: TAEY-Laor
  • Variations: Tailor, Tayllor
  • Namesakes: Elizabeth Taylor, a British-American actress and the world’s highest-paid movie star in the 1960s. John Taylor, the British bass player for Duran Duran.
  • Popularity: Taylor ranked 345th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 3rd in England in 2014.
Occupational, Popular

Terrell

Terrell evokes the name of an ancestor, meaning “the son of Turold or Tirrell.” It also relates to the French “tirand,” meaning “one who pulls on the reins,” as a nickname for a stubborn person.

  • Origin: English, Norman
  • Meaning: Stubborn
  • Pronunciation: Teh-REHL
  • Variations: Tyrrell, Terrill
  • Namesakes: Daryl Terrell, an American football player for the New Orleans Saints. Patsy Terrell, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from January to June 2017.
  • Popularity: Terrell is rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S., ranking 948th in 2014.
Patronymic, Nicknames

Thomas

Like other patronymic English last names, Thomas means “the son of” (in this case, Thomas). It’s a popular first name that ranked in the top 50 U.S. boys’ names in the 20th-century.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Twin
  • Pronunciation: TAAM-ahs
  • Variations: Tomes
  • Namesakes: Audrey Thomas, a Canadian writer and winner of the Marian Engel Award. Delano Thomas, an American volleyball player named Best Server at the 2007 Pan American Games.
  • Popularity: Thomas ranked 239th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 5th in Wales in 2014.
Traditional, Popular

Thompson

Thompson means “son of Thomas” or “son of Tom.” It may refer to a place called Thompson in Norfolk, England, but it is as traditional as English names go.

  • Origin: English, Scottish
  • Meaning: Son of Thomas
  • Pronunciation: TAAM-Sahn
  • Variations: Thomson
  • Namesakes: Scott Thompson, a Canadian comedian in the comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall. Carroll Thompson, a British singer known as the “Queen of Lovers Rock.”
  • Popularity: Thompson ranked 412th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 6th in Jamaica in 2014.
Popular, Patronymic

Truman

Truman was a very literal nickname for “the true man,” or a “trustworthy one.” It comes from the Middle English “trewe,” meaning “faithful” or “steadfast.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: True man
  • Pronunciation: TRUW-Maen
  • Variations: Trueman
  • Namesakes: Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the U.S. from 1945 to 1953. Timothy Truman, an American writer known for his comic book art on Grimjack.
  • Popularity: Truman is rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Nicknames, Uncommon

Ulysses

Ulysses is the Latin variation of the Greek Odysseus, meaning “wrathful.” “The Odyssey” means “epic voyage” and is the title of James Joyce’s most famous novel.

  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Wrathful
  • Pronunciation: Yuw-LIHS-iyz
  • Popularity: Ulysses is very rare worldwide and mostly used in Bangladesh.
Strong, Old

Walker

Walker is taken from the Old English “wealcere,” meaning “fuller.” It’s an occupation where cloth is thickened by beating and stomping it in the process.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Fuller
  • Pronunciation: WAOLK-er
  • Variations: Walkyr, Walkere
  • Namesakes: Gord Walker, a Canadian ice hockey player for the New York Rangers. Kerry Walker, an Australian actress known for The Piano (1995).
  • Popularity: Walker ranked 543rd worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 14th in England and Australia in 2014.
Popular, Occupational

Walter

Walter was a surname given to a “descendant of Walter” or the German Waldhar. Like the given name, it’s made up of “wasl,” meaning “rule,” and “hari,” meaning “army.”

  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Army rule
  • Pronunciation: WAOL-Tahr
  • Variations: Walters
  • Namesakes: Jessica Walter, an American actress known for Arrested Development. Ulrich Walter, a German astronaut on the 1993 Space Shuttle Columbia mission.
  • Popularity: Walter ranked 1,998th worldwide and is primarily used in Germany, ranking 38th in 2014.
Patronymic, Strong

Ward

Ward derives from the Old English “warde,” meaning “to watch” or “guard.” It may also be connected to the Gaelic Mac an Bhaird, meaning “son of the bard,” a very old-fashioned term for a poet or oral storyteller.

  • Origin: English, Gaelic
  • Meaning: Guard
  • Pronunciation: WAHRD
  • Variations: Warde
  • Namesakes: Robbie Ward, an English rugby league footballer for the Sheffield Eagles. Zach Ward, a Canadian actor appearing in the series Titus.
  • Popularity: Ward ranked 938th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 29th in England in 2014.
Occupational, Common
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Watson

Watson was for the “son of Wat,” a medieval variation of Walter. It spread to Scotland, the north of England, and ranked 76th among U.S. surnames in 2019.

  • Origin: English, Scottish
  • Meaning: Powerful ruler
  • Pronunciation: WAOT-Sahn
  • Variations: Wattson
  • Namesakes: Emily Watson, an English actress best known for Breaking the Waves (1996). Liam Watson, an English manager of the Southport Football Club.
  • Popularity: Watson ranked 920th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 19th in Scotland in 2019.
Common, Patronymic

Webster

In England, a “webster” was known as a “cloth weaver.” It was typically used for female weavers, along with Webb, when based on the Old English “webbestre.”

  • Origin: English, French
  • Meaning: Weaver
  • Pronunciation: WEHBST-er
  • Variations: Websteer
  • Namesakes: Kieren Webster, a Scottish musician and the bass player for the band The View. Noah Webster, the American creator of An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.
  • Popularity: Webster is uncommon worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 142nd in England in 2014.
Occupational, Old

Wheeler

Many Victorian-era last names began as occupational ones, like Wheeler. It was used to denote a “maker of wheels” in the middle ages. Wheeler is made up of “wel” and “hari,” meaning “lucky or prosperous warrior.”

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Wheelwright
  • Pronunciation: WIY-Lehr
  • Variations: Wheeller
  • Namesakes: Lucile Wheeler, a Canadian alpine ski racer and double world champion in 1958. Tim Wheeler, a Northern Irish musician, and singer for the rock band Ash.
  • Popularity: Wheeler is uncommon worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 201st in Wales in 2014.
Occupational, Unique

White

White derives from the Old English “hwit,” and was a nickname for someone with white hair or a fair complexion. It could be an Anglo form of the Gaelic surname MacGillebhàin, meaning “son of the fair gillie.”

  • Origin: English, Scottish
  • Meaning: Fair complexion
  • Pronunciation: WIHT
  • Variations: Whyte
  • Namesakes: Betty White, an American actress best known for The Golden Girls (1985 to 1992). Meg White, an American musician, and drummer of The White Stripes duo.
  • Popularity: White ranked 435th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 9th in Australia in 2014.
Nicknames, Popular

Wilkes

Wilkes was first a Medieval English first name and a short form for William, like Will. It’s closely associated with the diminutive Wilkin, mostly unseen today.

  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Son of William
  • Pronunciation: WIHLKS
  • Variations: Wilke
  • Namesakes: Justin Wilkes, a film producer for the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015). Carissa Wilkes, a New Zealand cyclist who competed at the 2007 UCI Road World Championships.
  • Popularity: Wilkes is rare worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 528th in Wales in 2014.
Patronymic, Unique

Williams

Williams is one of many names inspired by William, like the Old German Wilhelm, meaning “resolute protector.” After the Norman Conquest in 1066, Williams was the top surname in Britain.

  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Son of William
  • Pronunciation: WIHL-Yahmz
  • Variations: William
  • Namesakes: Robin Williams, an American comedian, and winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997). Vanessa Williams, an American singer and the first African-American woman to receive the Miss America title in 1984.
  • Popularity: Williams ranked 183rd worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 2nd in Jamaica in 2014.
Popular, Traditional

Wilson

Wilson is an obvious derivation of a “son of Will,” a nickname for William. It’s common in Northern England and Scotland, and, like William, it also means “resolute protector.”

  • Origin: English, Scottish
  • Meaning: Son of William
  • Pronunciation: WIHL-Sahn
  • Variations: Wilsen, Willson
  • Namesakes: Tom Wilson, a Canadian ice hockey player for the Washington Capitals. Scott Wilson, an American actor appearing on the AMC series The Walking Dead (2011 to 2014).
  • Popularity: Wilson ranked 313th worldwide, is mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 3rd in Scotland in 2014.
Patronymic, Popular

Wittock

Whittock derives from the Old English Hwittuc, meaning “white cock.” It was a nickname for fair-skinned or white-haired people and oddly translated in Gaelic to Dow or Duff.

  • Origin: English, Scotland
  • Meaning: White, fair
  • Pronunciation: WIH-tak
  • Variations: Whittock
  • Popularity: Wittock is very rare worldwide, primarily used in Belgium, and ranked 922nd in the Cayman Islands in 2014.
Unusual, Noble

Wood

Wood means “at the wood” when based on the Old English “wudu,” meaning “wood.” It’s associated with the German Wald, also used for a “wild” person living in the woods.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Wild
  • Pronunciation: WUHD
  • Variations: Woode
  • Namesakes: Ed Wood, an American filmmaker known for Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957). Evan Rachel Wood, an American actress appearing in the American Gothic series (1995 to 1996).
  • Popularity: Wood ranked 894th worldwide, is mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 22nd in England in 2014.
Geographical, Common

Wraith

Wraith is an Old English term for “wrath” to denote an “angry” or “fierce” personality. It may also be a variation on the English Wraight, meaning “carpenter,” and is a term used for a ghost.

  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Angry
  • Pronunciation: RAEYTH
  • Variations: Wroth
  • Namesakes: Geoffrey Wraith, an English rugby league footballer for Yorkshire. Ronald Wraith, the British chairman of the Nigerian Federal Electoral Commission in the 1950s.
  • Popularity: Wraith is very rare worldwide and mainly used in England.
Unique, Rare
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About the Author

Maryana Vestic

Maryana Vestic is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and food photographer with a background in entertainment Business Affairs. She studied film at NYU, Irish Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School. She loves cooking, baking, hiking, and horror films, as well as running a local baking business in Brooklyn with her boyfriend.
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