I don’t really see that much of a problem with surnames as first names, but my approval does vary in accordance with the type/style that is being used and, indeed, what sex they are being used for.
For example, go back several hundred or thousand years and a vast majority of surnames were originally designed and intended for male usage. Females often weren’t given surnames and, when we were, the surnames in question were specifically feminine, and a lot of them ended in ‘-dóttir’ – the female counterpart to ‘-son’. And while I am well aware that surnames are now unisex and have been for a long time, I can still see or sense the masculine intent and origin in most of them, so with the exception of very few choices, like Melrose (which I would still accept on boys), I really don’t care for surnames being used as first names on girls at all. But that’s just my opinion.
When it comes to using surnames on boys, I personally see most of them as being quite appropriate. In particular, I’m fond of subtle surnames like [name_u]Quinn[/name_u], [name_u]Riley[/name_u], [name_m]Bennet[/name_m], [name_u]Sheridan[/name_u], [name_u]Flannery[/name_u], [name_u]Quincy[/name_u] and [name_f]Carol[/name_f] – the kind that you can’t tell are surnames based on sound or looks. I do appreciate their subtlety and think that they make for wonderful and exciting boy name choices.
I also have no problem with ‘-son’ names as, while they’re more obvious as surnames, the fact of the matter is that they were intended for boys and, since ‘-son’ is not a ragingly common type surname, I think it’s perfectly fine to rediscover them as first names for boys. In particular, I’d like to see [name_u]Madison[/name_u] and [name_u]Allison[/name_u] being revived for boys and, that aside, enjoy seeing people taking up the likes of [name_u]Ellison[/name_u], [name_m]Greyson[/name_m] and [name_u]Emerson[/name_u], thus adding diversity.
Having said that, I also don’t mind the ‘posh’ and ‘snobby’ surnames like [name_u]Remington[/name_u] and [name_u]Ellington[/name_u]. Some people see them as over the top, and quite rightfully so. But for me, that’s hardly a bad thing. Boy names have, for several generations now, been very bland and run-of-the-mill (again, in my opinion), with nothing too exciting being introduced or encouraged for one reason or another, which is in complete contrast to the past, wherein a lot of boy names were quite elaborate, innovative and defined. I would like to see a return to those days of exciting and expressive styles, and as such support and encourage any deviation from the short, common and underwhelming choices that are the often enforced standard for boys today.
To be honest, the only surnames I don’t particularly like are the ones that I consider less-than-charming. Occupational names have never been my thing, as your average [name_u]Mason[/name_u] and [name_u]Hunter[/name_u] are anything but elegant. [name_m]Fisher[/name_m] is one that bothers me a lot as well, as I’ve seen its popularity increase recently and just don’t understand the appeal. [name_f]Do[/name_f] you love fish that much? [name_f]Do[/name_f] you have a particular talent for fishing? With these particular surnames, I feel like some deep personal significance needs to be present if they are to be selected, though I’m sure others would disagree.
The style/type of surname I really can’t stand are the try-hard hyper-masculine ones. I’ve noticed that they were practically non-existent until the ‘unisex’ trend came into full swing. Now that once untouchable male names like [name_u]Rowan[/name_u], [name_u]Elliott[/name_u] and [name_u]James[/name_u] are either being used by girls in great numbers, or starting to be used by girls, all of a sudden [name_u]Jagger[/name_u], [name_m]Jett[/name_m], [name_m]Ryker[/name_m], [name_m]Gannon[/name_m], [name_m]Nash[/name_m] and [name_m]Gunner[/name_m] have popped up. That bothers me for several reasons, but the biggest reason I dislike these names are because they’re so manly, in an overcompensating way, and they seem to be selected by some people in a serious attempt to force machismo on a baby. [name_m]Even[/name_m] if I was dead-wrong in that regard, I just don’t like the look of them, and I really don’t like their harsh and abrasive sounds, and overall they’re not something that I could picture looking good on a professional or well-to-do young man. But again, just my opinion.
Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. The gist of this whole thing is that, 9 times out of 10, I think surnames as first names for boys are just fine, with a few exceptions, which ultimately come down to personal taste.