What Nationality Is My Last Name

The last name of a person, or surname, is the name that all your family members share so that everyone knows that you are from the same family. Many people ask what nationality is my last name, and to find this out we must first look at where particular last names come from.

In general, last names have came from four different sources. These particular sources are what your ancestor's occupation was, what their father's first name was, where they lived, and what their nickname was.

Last Name From Person's Occupation

Many people, in the past, were given their last names by what type of occupation they held. It would make things easier to separate people like if a man named John was also a blacksmith, then his last name might become Smith. Here are a few other examples.

Knight - Was a knight of the king

Wagner - Was a wagon maker

Powers - Was poor

Last Name Based On Their Father's First Name

Last names that came from a father's first name were greatly popular, especially in Scandinavian countries. These names were often created by adding a prefix or suffix to a person's father's first name, such as adding son to the end of a father's first name. Anytime you see a name that has this son at the end of it, it probably was created in this way, like the last name Thompson. Here are some other examples.

Peterson (Swedish) - Son of Peter

Sachez (Spanish) - Son of Sancho

Peters (English) - Son of Peter

McDonald (Scottish) - Son of Donald

d'Angelo (Italian) - Son of Angelo

Last Name From Where The Person Lived

Another way that many people received their respective last names was from where they lived. In order to be able to separate one person from another, they often used locations or geographic surroundings to name different people. For example, a person that lived near a church on a hill may be named Churchill and so on. Here are some other examples.

Cliff - Lived near a cliff

Ashley - Lived in field that was surrounded by ash trees

Brooks - Lived by a brook

Parris (French) - Lived in Paris

Last Name From A Nickname

One other way that many people received their last names was from a nickname that described their physical appearance or personality. As an example, a person named Joe who had black hair might of became Joe Black, or a very strong man Named Joe could become Joe Armstrong. Below are some more examples.

Small - Was a small person

Stout - Was a stout person

Sharpe - Was a smart person

Broadhead - Had a large head

As you can see, asking the question "what nationality is my last name" is difficult to answer because there are many different ways that you ancestors could of received their last name. In general, certain names are usually considered being from a certain country or location, but that's a different question. If you still want to know what nationality is my last name, you can usually do an ancestor search and find detailed information of where you family came from.

You could also check out these names lists:

British Last Names

Greek Last Names

Black Last Names

Latin Last Names