A Dictionary of English Surnames Paperback – Apr 1 1997
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From the Publisher
About the Author
David Hey is Professor of Local and Family History and Dean of the Faculty of Educational Studies at the University of Sheffield.
Top Customer Reviews
The amount of work that has gone into this volume is daunting, particularly when it comes to the mention of early sources in which names have been found. Some of that material is perhaps more of interest to the specialist than the general user, but in any case it is valuable. The Introduction, on names generally, is extremely informative and interesting.
For myself, I most often need to know what a surname might mean (most of them do have meaning), and I suspect that this is what others, too, frequently want to know. For example, are those many Australians who have the surname *Smyth* in effect carrying the surname *Smith*? Yes, indeed: the *y* is merely a spelling variant, which many welcome because it suggests a name other than *Smith* (though quite a few people called *Smyth* don't themselves know that *Smyth*= *Smith*!).
Does this dictionary reveal what one wants to know? It does, but not always in the handiest way possible. It has an entry *Smye, Smythe*, but not one for *Smyth*: one needs to know something about the early stages of the language to realise that if *Smythe* is an early form of *Smith*, then so is *Smyth* likely to be, and if one then turns to *Smith* one will find *Smyth* there. So not everyone will necessarily immediately discover the material searched for - but most people are likely to do so eventually. All in all , I recommend the book heartily, and use it often. - Joost Daalder, Professor of English, Flinders University (South Australia)
The meat of the book is the alphabetical listing of some 16,000 English surnames, their variations, probable origins, and notes on early occurrences in the written records.
The cross-referencing between variant spellings is excellent and makes for easy navigation between variants.
A first rate resource for English genealogy and local history.
I found the introduction especially tedious and difficult to make sense of. Apart from the fairly obvious divisions (local, occupational etc.) the rest of it is also very technical and really not readily understood by a layman. Even the explanations of the abbreviations were obtuse. It seemed that some discussion of the source material would have been informative. As it was I was left feeling totally in the dark.
It is clearly a scholarly work and probably useful to academia but I doubt that the average man on the street would get much use out of it. Sorry!
Most recent customer reviews
Very thorough and will result in many disagreements as we all have our favoured interpretation of our family name.Published 6 months ago by Art Booklover
The Dictionary of English Surnames is wonderful -- tons of information about surnames both common and rare, with many dated examples of early spellings. Sources are always given. Read morePublished on June 22 2001 by W. D.