SURNAMES
GETTING TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THEM

Teach your children the importance of their name. It is important for them to know how tremendous an asset a name can be to them. It not only identifies us as individuals, but we can, by simply signing our name, make ourselves responsible for a mountain of debt, and the years of unhappiness that debts can cause. By signing our name, we can chart our lives into many years of a happy rewarding marriage, or again, by signing our name to divorce documents, we can end years of an unhappy marriage.
The importance of our name can never be adequately described.
So, write down your name and look at it. What do you see? Just a few, or eight, or more letters? But what a wealth of history, joy, happiness, sadness and heartbreak those few letters hold locked into the fabric of your name. Where also could you find a record of history stretching back eight hundred years of which, you yourself, are a part of? And it is all contained within your name, and because it is such a valuable, precious thing, a great responsibility is entrusted to you to pass it on to future generations.
Now, although men and women have existed on this earth for more than 50,000 years, our surnames only become hereditary names about the year 1350 AD. So in all truthfulness we can only really trace our ancestors back to about the year 1400 AD. The only exception to this would be the royal blood lines.
To properly understand Family History, it is important for us to understand how Christian names came about, and how they evolved into Surnames, and how our names became more important as we progressed from cave dwellers to people living in Clans, Tribes, to people living in fortified villages, then to villages living in the shadows of great castles into which we went for shelter when danger threatened, then the castle complex gave way to fortified towns, then the fortified towns grew into cities, and the cities grew into sprawling suburbs as we know them today.
When we were people living in a tribe, small in members, it was easy to identify people by giving us only one name, but as our numbers grew, we started to travel and visit other villages, and things started to get a bit confused, so we started to give people two names. The second name came to be known as a Surname. For a long while we did not attach much importance to Surnames and we often took the Surnames of our Clan leaders, but when it became necessary for us to pay taxes, laws were passed by the Kings insisting the people choose a Surname and retain it. For a while we added an "O", or a "Mc" or a "Mac" to the front of a name to distinguish a father from a son, or an "S" to the end of a name to distinguish a son from his father. But as our population grew, even this became too confusing and we adopted the simple custom of each family member taking the surname of the father, and when a girl married, she took the surname of her husband........

James McClelland, OAM

Book 56. Surnames - Getting To Know More About Them - 45 pages.
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