from some bodily or personal characteristic of their first bearer,
apparently grew out of what were in the first instance nicknames,
some of which were not always very flattering to one's ancestor.
Peter the strong
became Peter Strong, Roger of small stature became Roger Little
or Roger Small, and black-haired William or blond Alfred became
William Black or Alfred White. Gotobed, for example, stemmed from
someone who was very lazy, Campbell meant 'crooked mouth' and Kennedy
is Gaelic for "ugly head". A few examples of names of this type
are Long, Short, Hardy, Wise, Good, Gladman, Lover, and Youngman.
Back to the Origin of Surnames