Geneaology is always fascinating, in a narcisstic way.
Sites like ancestry.com tap into that urge to find out who you really are.
And the thing that’s really valuable for geneaologists – the thing that ties families together in historical records – is data about surnames, usually passed patrilineally from father to son, and so on.
A new study from the UK hopes now shed some light on the origins of all 150,000 surnames in use in Britain today.
Apparently most surnames, at least those of European origin, go back about 1000 years. (Before that, there was no need. You lived in a village small enough to get by with first names only.)
It occurred to me, reading this, that it’d be awesome to find out who the first person known by your surname was.
Who were they, and why was it that some particular characteristic, like height (Little), job (Goldsmith) or nationality (French) got picked out as their personal denominator?
I’d love to find the first ever Frenkel.