Surnames associated with a particular ancestry

Names that end with “ian” are almost always Armenian. Like Sarkes Tarzian, the engineer who used to live in my hometown. Nearly every name on this Wikipedia List of Armenian-Americans ends with “ian.”

Doh! Beat by Argent Towers!

I’ve found that many Irish names have double letters. Sullivan, O’Malley, etc…

ing ending= German. This is no red herring.

My surname is Germanic, but from Switzerland. Specifically, the Saint Gallen area. We know our family back to 1690, at which time my ancestor-namesake was the burgermeister of a small village in the area.

My grandmother’s maiden name was as Irish as a pint of Guinness, and she married an English surname. I’m a bit of everything. Some sort of distant cousin with my last name was even on a Hungarian postage stamp early in the 20th century! (He was active in the 19th.)

Fitz is a prefix in Irish or occasionally English names and is of originally Norman French origins.

Van is also a common middle name in Vietnamese, so when the full name is used there are a ton of Van Xs running around.

Both occur for the same branch of my family on the Ukrainian-derived side. Never underestimate the powers of Ellis Island to change spelling.

You got it. I’m a Mc of Scottish descent. However, a different distinguishing feature in our family’s lore is that in the myriad variations of my last name, those spelled with a ch are Scottish, and those with a gh Irish. Given other Scottish/Irish pairs such as the words loch and lough, this strikes me as more likely.

Specifically, it’s probably Swedish. Danish names end in -sen. Norwegian names tend to have a double s (as do Swedish sometimes) but might end in -en or -on, so it goes


Roughly, anyway. There’s overlap. But I’ve never seen a Danish person with a double s like Jenssen. And now ss’s are starting to take over the page, so I’ll stop.

Everyone of Sikh descent has the last name Singh, which means “lion.”

People with the name Katz are originally descended from the Israelite tribe of Kohen - the name Katz is actually an abbreviation for Kohen TZadik, meaning in Hebrew, “Blessed is the Kohen clan.”

Most names involving money or jewels - Goldstein, Silverman, Rubin/Ruby/Rubinstein, Diamond - are Jewish, probably because many Jews were either money lenders or jewelery merchants during Medieval times.

This is also why Singapore is called the Lion State and they have that goofy “merlion” symbol. In Thai, singh means “lion” and is why a lion graces the label of Singha beer, (*singha * being an alternate spelling, although the A is silent.) We have a province in the Central region called Singburi or Singhburi (various spellings), which is basically the Thai form of Singapore.

Final -ni (or, perhaps, -schni), and -li are Swiss.

Ah but “Fitz” was usually a polite was of saying “bastard child of someone upper class”.
Fitzcharles, Fitzherbert, Fitzpatrick…one was just supposed to know which “Charles” they were named after.

Unless they were a woman, when they’d more likely be given the name Kaur (priness), which is helpful since traditional first names don’t tend to be gender specific. Also both Singh and Kaur can be used either as surnames or middle names .

What ancestry is Irwin? My grandmother wants to know. Something tells me it’s English, but I’m not sure.

Nothing definitive, but this shows that it is probably of Irish distinction.

Just the men. Sikh women are surnamed Kaur, which means ‘princess’.

Mac is also the Irish for Mc to confuse things further :smiley:
I’d go with -agh and -augh either at end in middle of names indicating either Irish or Scots origins.

…unless the “Sch” is pronounced “sk” (as in “school”), in which case it’s likely Dutch (correct me if I’m wrong).

Then to confuse things even more, there’s the abbreviation M’ which now seems to be obsolete. Maybe the original purpose of M’ was to cover both spellings? It was used in newspaper headlines as a space saver - there were WWII headlines about “M’Arthur.” As far as I know, the only surviving use is in a legal precedent called the M’Naghten Rules, dating from the 19th century.