Surname Names

Now, I know that surname names are a huge trend in modern naming, whether they be old gems dug up from the family tree or a means of honoring a favorite author or artist. That being said, as I was reading a poster today, of the twelve surnames listed on the poster, half were real, genuine, established names - [name]Taylor[/name], [name]Anthony[/name], [name]Dean[/name], [name]Jordan[/name], [name]Rose[/name], and [name]Stewart[/name]. This got me thinking - are people getting more creative with their naming (which is obviously true) or are the surnames themselves changing? Where are the days of Bradstreet and Dashwood, [name]Burns[/name] and Welland? Of surnames that [name]AREN[/name]'T and WOULDN’T be first names?

Clearly, surnames can’t be changing, as they are the result of many generations of names and people. However, it just seems a bit odd to me. Am I alone in my confusion?

I think I know what you mean, it seems kind of rare to come across a really distinctive last name these days. There are lots of Browns, Whites, etc. You actually could say that surnames have changed because so many immigrants in the past either chose or were forced to change their surname to something more Americanized. I don’t know if that’s it though, however when I look at my family tree there are lots of people with different last names than their parents. There was probably also the case of the person taking the census spelling the name incorrectly and the name’s spelling permanently changing. Surnames will almost disappear when there are no males to carry on the name, that could be making the number decrease though that’s unlikely a large amount. Interesting thought.

In my efforts to fully explore this topic, I’ve decided to look into literature and media as a means of elucidating the true nature of the surname name.

Let’s go back to my old favorite, [name]Jane[/name] [name]Austen[/name]'s Pride and Prejudice. A wealth of surname names have come from the novel, indeed, from [name]Darcy[/name] to [name]Bennett[/name], to [name]Austen[/name] itself! Back in that time period, certainly nobody would have named a child with a surname name, as the period in general preferred established classics like [name]Charles[/name] and [name]William[/name], [name]Caroline[/name] and [name]Elizabeth[/name]. But, let us not forget a minor character, [name]Colonel[/name] [name]Fitzwilliam[/name], friend and relation to Mr. [name]Darcy[/name] and Lady [name]Catherine[/name]. The name [name]Fitzwilliam[/name] was popularized in being the first name of [name]Eliza[/name] [name]Bennett[/name]'s Mr. [name]Darcy[/name], yet here we see that it did indeed originate as a surname! So, was the trend of using surnames as first names in place in the 1800s? Largely, it was not, but it seems that us modern folk are perhaps not as creative as we once thought…

If we jump forward to modern television and take a look at some of our main characters, we may find a similar story…

Firstly, I investigate Bones, a show in which [name]Temperance[/name] [name]Brennan[/name] and her trusty sidekick, Special Agent [name]Seeley[/name] [name]Booth[/name], work together to solve murder mysteries! [name]Ah[/name], the intrigue! Anyway, we can see that [name]Temperance[/name], or “Bones,” as she is called by Agent [name]Booth[/name], has a surname that was once widely popularized as a first name - [name]Brennan[/name]. Overall, however, these characters do not represent the trend in surnames that I earlier alluded to.

Secondly, I move into the drama and craziness of one of TV’s most successful medical dramas, [name]Grey[/name]'s Anatomy. The title character, [name]Meredith[/name] [name]Grey[/name], is a conglomeration of surname names devised into first names. Indeed, [name]Meredith[/name] was at first a surname, but has been popularized as a female first name since the fifties! [name]Grey[/name] is more of a late-comer to the surname name scene, but I can personally say that I know of a girl named [name]Grey[/name] ([name]Grey[/name] [name]King[/name], to be specific). The plot thickens as we search out more characters in the hospital, from [name]Miranda[/name] [name]Bailey[/name] and [name]Mark[/name] [name]Sloan[/name] to [name]Derek[/name] [name]Shepherd[/name] and [name]Preston[/name] [name]Burke[/name], now absent from the prime-time drama. [name]Bailey[/name] and [name]Sloan[/name] are long-standing female - perhaps unisex - first names, with [name]Bailey[/name] now being regarded as dated (or doggy) and [name]Sloan[/name] coming back into fashion. [name]Burke[/name], perhaps not the most popular surname name, is a masculine, handsome choice that has been bestowed on more than a few young men. And, if we can name a child [name]Sailor[/name], why not [name]Shepherd[/name], right? (Here’s to you, [name]Jerry[/name] Seinfeld. Here’s to you.)

Thirdly, I move on to The Mentalist, a crime drama that relies on a mentalist, [name]Patrick[/name] [name]Jane[/name], to solve crime and punish perpetrators. Clearly, [name]Jane[/name] is a first name, is it not? Or, did the name originate as a surname? This seems quite unlikely, as [name]Jane[/name] is a long-standing English classic - let us only remember the earlier example of Pride and Prejudice to clarify this point. So, is the trend reversing? Are surnames being derived from first names? The question is intriguing indeed…

I don’t necessarily mind the new trend in naming your son/daughter names like as mentioned above [name]Grey[/name]. But names like [name]Black[/name], White, [name]Green[/name], [name]Hernandez[/name], [name]Smith[/name], and even my last name Sellons [which is my username] are best left for the ending of your name.

I think if one is considering to name their child a surname they should really think of how it fits as a first name and maybe even go so far as to introduce them-self to someone with that as their name.