If you are looking for Victorian surnames to use in your play / story as character names, why not try our random name and surname generator.
You must be wondering what is so great in surnames so as to examine them. Well, surnames chosen in times immemorial and passed on as a legacy from generations to generations reveal the history of an era.
As we now observe a changing trend in names, we may not find many variations in surnames during earlier days. An alteration in surnames happen only due to vital reasons and studying them will help us to understand the customs, practices, and fashions of ever changing times.
It is believed that family names acquired a status in England around the twelfth and the thirteenth century. It was only then it was decided that last names should be made hereditary. Hence in a family tree, the last name occurred in consecutive generations.
Many historians have often associated surnames with the Victorian era, but we can never conclude that surnames were unique during the Victorian era. Tennyson, Kipling, Browning, Dickens, Gladstone, and Disraeli were some of the popular surnames during the Victorian times.
It is a well-established fact that surnames relate to an era, time or a period in history. Surnames also have a close link with ethnicity. Stories that narrate the events of Victorian era provide a base for this finding. If you notice, most of the Victorian characters we came across in novels are from Great Britain. British sounding surnames such as James, Jones and Smith are examples.
Victorian Surnames originating from profession
During the Victorian era, many people had last names favouring their trade, occupation or business. For instance, carpenter, blacksmith, and shoemakers had last names reflecting their trade. As time passed by last names became a status symbol in society.
It is said that new surnames were created during the Victorian era. There were various reasons and one of them being migration. The English had migrated to Ireland and settled there. But they were not able to speak, read or write Irish Gaelic and new surnames were to be formed. The Irish surnames are not what they were formerly. Thus the immigrants of the Victorian era changed their names and new sunames were added onto the pages of the Victorian era surnames.
Origin: Biblical Victorian surnames
Biblical names were quite popular in the Victorian era and names were borrowed from New Testaments and the Old Testament. National leaders, Political leaders, Religious leaders, Military leaders, Martyrs were an inspiration to people and a new phase of naming practices was observed in the Victorian era. There were occasions when an ancestor’s name became a middle name or last name of a person.
The following are some of the Victorian era’s last names found in old land survey records: Stanbury, Hopkin, Godwin, Baldwin, Whitlock, Hayward etc.
In 1853, these were the top 50 popular surnames (18% of the population)
Here is Victorian surnames popularity rank-wise chart
Victorian posh names for children
Posh Victorian baby names for boys
Posh Victorian baby names for girls
If you are interested in finding more Victorian era surnames, you may find them in archives of museums and libraries, census records, genealogy records, ship passenger records and family albums.