23    Aug 20100 comments

Top Ten Australian Surnames

Whilst Australia awaits the outcome of the national election, Welsh-born Julia Gillard’s surname may give a little insight into her character.  Gillard is an ancient name of Norman 11th century origins.  According to some sources, it came from the Norman name Willard.  This name is derived from the Germanic roots “will” meaning desire, and “heard” meaning strong or hard. 

Tony Abbot’s ancient surname is generally of early English origins, predating the Anglo-Saxons and Normans.  It was usually an occupational name for a person employed by an abbot, or perhaps a nickname for one who was thought to conduct himself like an abbot. 

Could you be related to the next Prime Minister of Australia?  How common is the name Gillard or Abbot in Australia?  You might be surprised!  Find out below, along with the 10 most common surnames in Australia.

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5    Aug 20100 comments

The Name Game

According to legends, China first initiated the custom of using surnames during the reign of Emperor Fu Xi (2852BC).

Emperor Fu Xi is said to have invented 100 Chinese family names and declared that marriages could only take place between persons bearing different family names.

The use of surnames didn't begin in the European world until about the eleventh century, with some patronymic surnames in Scandinavia bestowed as late as the nineteenth century. Surnames, for the most part, evolved during the past eight hundred years to help distinguish one person from another as the world's population grew.

The search for ancestors can be quite an adventure and very addictive!  With all the resources now available via the Internet, millions of people spend all hours of the day and night in hot pursuit, following the smallest leads.  One thing that can drive us all crazy though are the challenges associated with name changes.  These can range from variations in spelling, mispronunciation, additions, deletions, modifications, translations, nicknames, shortforms and just basic legal name changes!

Continue reading "The Name Game" »

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