This book tells the engaging story of when our surnames first came into use, why they were necessary and how people acquired them. At some point we all consider our surnames - many of us will wonder about the stories behind them, especially if they are unusual. Those of us with British surnames possess that magic thread which leads back nearly a thousand years to a time when surnames were a new idea on this side of the English Channel. There have been many books with surnames as their theme: dictionaries of surnames, books about unusual surnames, heraldry, researching family history and so forth, but there are few books which look at British history solely through surnames. Although the origins of the majority of British surnames lie in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the author shows that the near-Continent, especially France, has contributed its share too. The author has provided accounts of over 2000 of our surnames. Within this book the reader will find the answers to many questions about our surnames and will perhaps encourage its reader to pursue the study further. CONTENTS: What are Surnames and how old are they? - Surnames from Occupations - Surnames from Places - Surnames from Local Features - Surnames from Relationships - Surnames from Words of Affection - Surnames from Nicknames - Surnames from Personal Names - Postscipt - References - General index - Index of surnames.