Anonymous asked in Pregnancy & ParentingBaby Names · 1 decade ago

Where did last names come from?

I mean, at what point did people decide to have last names as well as first names? Did people just make up their last names? I was wondering this today, so does anyone know? Also, is it possible to figure out where your own last name came from? Any info at all, or websites would be great, thanks!

11 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    i think it came from medieval times, when it was your occupation that was your last name e.g. john the blacksmith would be called john blacksmith and eventually john smith, my last name means "butler" in italian, so my ancestors were probably butlers or servants for someone when these things took trend

  • 1 decade ago

    Long ago like in England and China, names would be the first name and the name of the powerful person that they lived near.

    For instance Jack from the house of Windsor.

    When the population became larger, people had to differenat one person from another with the same first name. For instance, my family is from sweden. What they did long ago was John the son of Anders. Then there were too many with that name so they did things like add a middle name and switch the son of, to Johnson For example John Anderson

    When there were too many John Andersons they used middle name. John Bjorn Johnson

    Sometime when there were so many Johnsons the family would use the name of their profession. For instance ... John Carpenter

    John Plummer John Cook John Baker and so on.

    When my great grandparents came from sweden they changed their name to not be so common.

  • 4 years ago

    In Europe it was mostly Napoleon who brought it into common use. The French Empire (thus Napoleon) maintained a very thorough administration largely to keep fresh and steady supply of men for their army/military. So they needed a way to identify them and register them... So a lot of the nations that were conquered by Napoleon (virtually all of us) adopted their system. That's why a lot of people are called 'Janszoon' or 'Johansson' (translation: "John's Son" (or Johnson)). My surname is Salomons - it's a Jewish surname. I think they used surnames quite early on. I know King Solomon comes from that story, about the baby and two mothers, so I guess they named themselves after that?

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    im pretty sure it came from Rome. The last name was carried on by the males. The female children would get a first name from the familys last name. example; if the family name was cornelius they would take out the u s and put a to make cornelia. of course that changed over time.

    hope i helped(:

    Source(s): latin teacherr.
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  • 1 decade ago

    people only had first names.

    in medieval europe, their names are also associated with the jobs they had. you might be named Joan the Cobbler (a shoe maker) and so the descendants of that person may have the name Joan Cobbler. Brewer is an ale/wine brewer/maker.

  • Akkita
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    My last name came from my husband -his family name is an English translation of their surname from Italy.

    Source(s): Origins and Meaning of Names
  • 1 decade ago

    A long time ago, last names told where you were from

    for example

    Leonardo "Da Vanci" (Leonardo from Vinci)

    Then it became your job, like the last name of Smith; it came from being a black "smith".

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It generally came from their profession or where they live. Or for example if your last name is taylor then your family could have been taylors and so on.

  • 1 decade ago

    i don't know how all of them came about, but i know that in the middle ages they started using last names to tell what you did for work. like if you worked with metal, you would of course be called 'black' for 'blacksmith' and if your last name was copper, you worked with copper. and also, some of them were to show you who was your father. like johnson, means son of john. jackson means son of jack, and so on. hope it helps!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    My last name is a city in Spain.

    and my family is from that city :)

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