on the Christian name of the father are very common in English-speaking
countries. English names terminating in "son" (or the contraction
"s"), "ing", and "kin" are of this type. Thus
the sons of John became Johnsons; the sons of William, Williamsons
or Wilsons; the sons of Richard, Richardsons or Richards; sons of
Dick might become Dickens, sons of Bartholomew might be Bartlett
and Ireland "Mac" or "Mc" means "son of" and families which had
settled in Ireland soon after the Norman Conquest have a surname
beginning with "Fitz" (from the French "fils", for "son"). "Fitz",
as used in England often indicates illegitimacy -- so the surname
Fitzroy means the illegitimate son of the King (from the French,
Fils de Roi). The Irish "O", as in O'Brien, means the grandson of
Brien. The sons of Neill might become MacNeills; the sons of Herbert,
FitzHerberts; the sons of Reilly O'Reillys;
can be difficult to trace since, though patronymic, they were not
always hereditary. William's son Hugh, for example, was Hugh Williams;
Hugh's son Richard was Richard Hughes, and so on. They also used
the prefix "ap".
sons of Thomas, ap Thomases (ap has been dropped from many names
of which it was formerly a part).
There are also
German, Netherlands, Scandinavian, and other European surnames of
similar formation, such as the Scandinavian names ending in "sen".
In the Slavic countries the "sky" and "ski" played the same role.
Christian name can be altered over time. The name David, for example,
has become: Davey, Davids, Dowell, Davidson, Davidge, Davie, Davies,
Davis, Davison, Dayson, Davy, Davys, Daw, Dawe, Dawes, Dawkes, Dawkins,
Daws, Dawson, Day, Davitt, Dowson, Dowd, Dowden, and Dowling. The
baptismal name of Richard has been modified to give us: Dick, Dickens,
Dickenson, Dickson, Dixon, Heacock, Hick, Hickin, Hickman, Hickmot,
Hickox, Hicks, Hickson, Higgins, Higginson, Higgs, Higman, Hiscock,
Hitch, Hitchcock, Hitchinson, Hitchmough, Hix, Reckett, Ricard,
Rich, Richard, Richards, Riche, Richer, Richett, Richney, Richie,
Richman, Rick, Rickard, Rickeard, Rickett, Ricketts, Rickman, Ricks,
Rickson, Ritchie, Ritchard, and Rix.
Back to the Origin of Surnames