What is the earliest knowledge you have of your family name?

Just for fun

I know my grandfathers were doctors in world war two

My family name is a common English word and can is recorded as a family name as early as 1086.

I know about my great grandparents on all sides, which takes my family history back to circa 1900. The part of my family that had my name wasn’t even in the US until 1906 and I’m not sure how much is truth. My grandfather was one of those people who seem to think that it’s not lying if it makes the story better and nobody ever gave me a general life history for them, just some isolated apocryphal stories.

I have an ancestor with my surname, verified by DNA, who was born in Virginia in 1728 and his will (1802) left a couple of dozen slaves. His family tree in England traces back at least to the 1500s.

My family name is described by Wikipedia as “It is the most prevalent surname in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, the second most common surname in Canada, and the fifth most common surname in Ireland.”

The article report that in County Durham, North East England, the name was recorded in 975.

Using Ancestry.com I was able to go back to the 1500s before I got bored of it.

To maintain my privacy I will not state what the name is, but it should be easy enough to guess.

I have traced one branch of my family all the way back to the year 1250, in Worcester, England. As it happens, this branch has my grandmother’s maiden name, which was also my father’s middle name and mine, as its surname. So, I am the 22nd consecutive person to hold that name, and my son is the 23rd.

My father’s brother traced our family back three generations before they emigrated from the Netherlands and Germany, so late 18th-century-ish.

My knowledge of my paternal line used to go back to Yorkshire in the 17th century. However, I underwent DNA testing for genealogy purposes earlier this year and found that, while I have DNA matches with descendants and relatives of my great great grandmother, I don’t have DNA matches with descendants of my great great grandfather. Known descendants of my great great grandfather do match each other.

Next up, my father and his cousin both did DNA testing and got the same results.

So while my knowledge of our family surname goes back to 17th century Yorkshire, I have yet to identify our biological line and where it goes.

I know my family name back to when that paternal^n ancestor arrived in this country in 1640 (before it was a country so the colony of Massachusetts Bay). I know where in England he came from and his father’s name. I know other ancestors back farther, but not my family name.

My grandfather knew very little about his father’s family. His father was apparently born Kitchens, but dropped the -s somewhere along the line. I traced *his *parents back to 1830s Tennessee, but after that, the line goes cold. I WAS able to trace other surnames in my family tree back to the 1500s in the Netherlands and France, and my mother’s maiden name to Wales in the 1700s.

A town in eastern Ukraine on my father’s side. Very common Hungarian name on my mother’s side.

My Grandfathers grandfather was transported to Australia from England in the 1850’s aged 18 for stealing some lead off a roof. Best thing that could have happened to him IMHO, he lived to 83 when life expectancy back in England was around 40 and I was born Australian not English :slight_smile:

I know the village he came from but haven’t tried to go back further than that.

Are we cousins?

My grandfather pretty much handwaved everything about his life and family before he came to the U.S. Based on the stories various members of my family remember he either did or didn’t

a) attend college
b) get into some scandal in the old country
c) settle for my grandmother although he really wanted to marry her sister
d) change his name when he got to America

Not very far. My paternal great-grandparents came from Poland (technically, it was Austria-Hungary then); my maternal grandparents came from Russia and Romania. It’s hard to go further back, since the Nazis destroyed a lot of the records.

The earliest reference I’ve ever seen to my family name is in immigration records from the 1890s. The earliest record that Google Ngrams shows is 1862, but it doesn’t tell me where that appeared.

My paternal great grandfather was kind of shady, spelled his name differently at times on various stuff, and listed his birthplace as America - don’t know much about him. On my mother’s side, her paternal ĺine included a fairly easily traceable Revolutionary War officer on the winning side, got a few generations past him back to Europe.

My last name is one of the most common names in the US and other countries.

A pair of Aunts traveled over to England and traced the family name as far back as a guy who fought in the Battle of Hastings (1066)…for the side that lost.
200 years later a family member worked in the Tower of London. We don’t know what he did, but considering stories we heard maybe we don’t want to know.

For what it’s worth, names do not necessarily reflect ancestry. If you assume a 10% chance that each pregnancy resulted from the union of a woman and a man who was not her husband, by the time you go back seven generations (less than 200 years), it become probable that you are not descended from a man with your surname. To the time of Jamestown or Plymouth colonies, the chances are less than 1/4 that your DNA came from a man with your name.

My paternal grandfather walked out when my dad was young. Nobody’s ever tried too hard to walk back further and it’s difficult. There’s not a lot of family knowledge to help once you try to get past the wedding certificate with a pretty common first name.

The name itself is seen in early medieval records. It’s a Gaelic family/clan name. The family name origin is linked to being named hereditary landholders of church property. There’s even a historical coat of arms bestowed by an English king for the family’s bravery and sacrifice in battle. (That didn’t stop them from taking away the family ancestral lands, yet again, after the victory. “Helped him win a battle and all we got was this design on our shields. Not even a stupid t-shirt!!!”) The family duty to the monastery involved preserving the manuscript from a 6th century Catholic saint. The manuscript itself was reportedly burned later, when one family member decided to end the squabbling between the monastery’s abbot and a Bishop (both also from the family) over who got the book. The box it was stored in is pretty impressive, though. It still exists in the National Museum of Ireland as a pretty renowned piece of Celtic art.

I have a family tree that goes back 13 generations.