Surnames carry the history of people in a very personal way. In England surnames were mostly established by the end of the fourteenth century – by ordinary people, for ordinary people. Uniquely, surnames describe medieval lives not captured by any other record. They tell us what these people did, where they went, what they noticed and give clues about their culture and memories.
This book examines the origins of English surnames, looking at: occupational names, locational names, or names that record places, nicknames and personal names, names from the Continent and symbolic names.
Where genealogists and etymologists focus on single names, this book takes groups of names and explores what these say about the society that created them.
In The Origins of English Surnames you will find the English people at a key moment in history, revealing the way they spoke, the jokes they made, and their memories of ancient cultures – all at a time when land-based feudalism was crumbling and people sought better lives.
Joslin Fiennes has an academic background in languages and economics, both of which inspired the idea of this book. She worked initially as a freelance writer in Africa before moving to the United States and becoming an economist, working on countries in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Since returning to the UK, Joslin has been a magistrate and school governor.
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