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:
MyHeritage heads to London this week for the leading family history show, Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE, from February 22-24.
The event, at the Olympia Exhibition Halls, features genealogy workshops, expert speakers, vendors and more to help with your family history research.
We've recently added millions of new records to MyHeritage's data collections.
The international collections include headstones, military records, yearbooks and even wanted posters and mugshots!
The records are searchable on MyHeritage's SuperSearch engine and are integrated with MyHeritage's Record Matching technology. This means that MyHeritage users will automatically receive notifications about records from these collections that match individuals in their family trees.
Here's some more information and links to the main collections we've added:
Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally observed in the UK and Commonwealth on December 26, but has nothing to do with the sport of the same name!
Where did it originate?
There are various opinions about its origins.
One view is that it comes from a very early Christian custom where boxes were left outside of churches for people to donate offerings for the Feast of Saint Stephen.
The European belief is that it stems from a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages where people would give money and gifts to needy tradesmen. In Britain, it was customary for tradesmen to collect boxes of money or presents, as thanks for their services, much like the concept of the Christmas bonus that many companies in western countries have adopted.
In the days when wealthy aristocrats employed servants to manage their homes, servants would have to work on Christmas Day, but would be given the next day as a holiday. The masters would give the servants a box of presents and leftovers to take home to their families.
Today, Boxing Day in the UK is mainly about shopping. Most people who celebrate Christmas will have spent a large amount of time and money shopping before the holiday, buying food for their festive dinner and presents for their family. To entice people back to the stores, Boxing Day is the day retailers traditionally hold sales. In this regard, it's very similar to Black Friday in the US.
As many families come together for the holidays, Boxing Day is also a ''bonus'' family day.
Are you celebrating Boxing Day? If so, how?
Let us know in the comments below.
We love bringing member success stories to our readers. They provide encouragement, offer tips, and show what can be accomplished. We especially like the stories of our younger members, which often spotlight social media.
Joe Tarsh of Manchester (UK) is only 21 and became interested in his family when he was 13.
I came to the realization that I wanted to know where I came from and a little voice at the back of my head told me that if I don’t ask now, then all the people who can answer may not be around to answer those questions much longer.
Born in London in 1991, his family moved to Hertfordshire, where he lived until 18. He then took a gap year, returned to the UK in 2010 and is now in his third year at university, studying for a degree in youth and community work.
He joined MyHeritage in March 2010 because he liked the site’s easy accessibility, found it simple to use and it had an incredible amount of data.
This post appeared last week in our German blog. We've translated it to help Gudrun Giesemann find her father.
We're now hoping to help Gudrun, who's been searching for her biological father for over 30 years. She's tried everything, without success. Now we're asking our readers for help. Each bit of information could be vitally important for Gudrun.
Here's her story:
For over 30 years, I've been searching for my biological father whom I've never met. When my mother died in 1989, she told me that his name was SIDNEY or SYDNEY SMITH. Unfortunately, there are a lot of spellings of this common name.
The Queen was born Princess Elizabeth of York on 21 April 1926, and was third in line to the throne, after Edward, Prince of Wales (King Edward VIII), and The Duke of York, her father.
When King George V, the Queen's grandfather, died in 1936, Edward VIII became King. However, within a year the King abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. This meant that the Queen's father, King George VI, became King, thus putting the now-Queen first in line to the throne.