Smith, Wright or Baker – many surnames are obviously derived from our forebears’ occupations. But what can we learn from some less common names?The point about surnames is their inevitability. Your forename is one that was chosen: your parents picked it and blessed you (or saddled you) with it; but the surname involves no choice: they are the ones we were born with.We no longer possess some of the more extraordinary names of people you might have met in the streets of medieval England: Chaceporc, Crakpot, Drunkard, Gyldenbollockes (centuries before David Beckham), Halfenaked, Scrapetrough, Swetinbedde – though the London phone book still serves up many that can amuse and surprise. Here, within 10 columns, you can find an array that, even when you discount those that do not sound homegrown, such as Slabberkoorn, Slagmuylders, Slobodzian, Sluzsky and Slysz, still leaves us with a fine crop of surnames, some enticing, some soothing, but others, names that their owners might not have chosen had they been given the choice.Here, for instance, are Slaby, Slankard, Slapp (and Slapper), Slark, Slatcher, Slay, Slaymaker, Sledge, Slee, Slingo and Slogan, not to mention Sloggem and Sloggett, Slomp, Slood, Slorance, Sluce, Sluggett, Slutter and Sly.But throughout the …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books