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Here's a good site: http://www.familychronicle.com/british.htm
"Throughout the British Isles, there are only four types of native surnames:
i) Those taking -- or based on -- the first name of the ancestor's father
ii) Those recording localities or places where ancestors originated.
iii) Names reflecting the occupation or status of the ancestor.
iv) Surnames that are nicknames describing the ancestor's face, figure,
temper, morals, or habits."
It came up in a search on www.google.com which produces good answers to most
questions, which also produced:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve St. Clair" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2002 3:40 AM
> I've been looking everywhere for an explanation. How, when and why did
> the practice of surnames begin? Anyone have a lengthy explanation on
> this or a good web site to look at ?
- From: "Steve St. Clair" <email@example.com>