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The Select Surname List

Welcome to the Select Surname List.  This site contains the history and genealogy of the 100 most common surnames of English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh origin that spread to the wider English-speaking world.  

The following are some of the surnames that are covered here:  

Cox.  The male bird, the cock, was often used as a nickname to describe the natural pertness of boys, like the habits of a strutting fowl.  Both swaggered and both could crow.  Thus cock became the general sobriquet for a sharp and forward lad.   Its use was Anglo-Saxon, predating the Norman arrival.  Alvin Coc was recorded as a dispossessed Saxon in the 1086 Domesday Book.  

Hamilton.  The Hamiltons in Scotland were Anglo-Norman by origin.  They had taken their name from the now deserted village of Hamilton in Leicestershire through which they had passed on their way to Scotland.   The name Hamilton comes from the Old English hamel meaning "crooked" and dun "hill."   

Lewis.  There appears to be English, Norman French, and Welsh origins for the surname Lewis.  The Old English leofwine, meaning "beloved friend," was one source.  Lodovicus, the founder of the Frankish dynasty and whose name came over to England with the Normans was another. Over time these names became Lewis.   And in Wales Lewis could have come from Llewelyn. 

Morgan.  Morgan is the anglicized form of the old Welsh name Morcant.  Some believe that the name has Celtic origins, from the Celtic goddess of beauty, Morrigan.  The surname traces its origin from the powerful Welsh family established around 1330 by Morgan ap Llewelyn who adopted Morgan as a surname.  The county of Glamorgan took its name from Morgan Mwynfawr and the early Morgan princes of south Wales. 

Simpson.  Simpson is derived from Simon, a popular baptismal name among the Normans.  It is a surname which has been infected by a "parasitic glide consonant."  This basically means that the "p" was not originally there and came about naturally from the pronunciation of Simson.  Simpson with the "p" first occurred in 1397 when a John Simpson was recorded in Yorkshire.

The table below shows the list of the 100 surnames that are reviewed.  Simply choose a surname below and click on it.

Top 100 Surnames in the English-speaking World

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

Check the Surnames section of this website for the ranking and total numbers for any of the surnames shown above.   We welcome any suggestions or thoughts you might have.  Just click on the email address below and send us your message.  

The top ten surnames for each region of the English speaking world can be found on the separate page of  Top Ten Surnames.

Enjoy the site!

Colin Shelley


PS.  If your surname does not appear in the list above, you might want to check out the surname page in this website.  It covers surname genealogy for more than 800 surnames.  These surnames are to be found in this and these companion websites: