MyHeritage welcomes you to a new weekly blog post, "Surname of the week." We'll discuss the origin, history and other information of one surname in each post.
Surnames first appeared in the Middle Ages as a way to record and document people and for tax purposes. Details included given names, nicknames, parents’ names, occupation and residence. This personal information later became an important part of the history of surnames.
English surnames, as we know them today, began in England as early as the 11th century. However, it was not until the late-17th-century that many families adopted permanent surnames.
Generally speaking, family names fall into the following categories with some examples given:
- Occupation: Smith, Taylor or Miller
- Personal characteristics: Young, Black or White
- Geographic or locations: Hamilton, Bush, Hill, Windsor or Murray
- Patronymics, Matronymics or Ancestral: Stephenson, Richardson or Harris
In honor of American-British Actress Elizabeth Taylor's birthday, we look at TAYLOR this week:
- Taylor is an occupational surname with French origins. “Tailleur" (old French) means “a cutter-out of cloth,” and refers to the medieval trade of being a “tailor.”
- It is one of the most popular English last names, ranking second only to Smith.
- The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Taylur in 1180. Spelling variations include Tayler, Tailor, Tailleur, Taylore and Tyler.
- Taylor was often adopted in the United States as a direct translation from names in other languages that also mean “tailor,” such as Schneider (German), Szabó (Hungarian), Portnoy (Russian), Krawiec (Polish) and Kleermaker (Dutch).
There are nearly 760,000 people with the last name Taylor on MyHeritage. The majority (56%) come from the US, while 31% are from the UK. Over 98% of profiles are from English-speaking countries. And there are more than 13 million records on our site for this surname.
Does your family include the surname TAYLOR, or a variant spelling? As always, share your comments with us below or on our Facebook page.