Locatemyname.com Surname Distribution Around the World
Surname mapping can be a useful tool in any genealogical or historical project. Most surnames have distinct distribution patterns based on regional lines. Mapping surname distribution reveals where the family originally came from and where it relocated or spread to. Surname databases are usually created using censuses and telephone directories.
The majority of Anglo-Saxon surnames originated in different parts of Great Britain at different periods in time. For example, Smith was a versatile name, given to craftsmen who worked in wood, metal and sometimes, even other materials.
Most surnames are patronymic in origin, which means they are derived from the name of a male ancestor, e.g. Andrew MacDonald (Andrew, the son of Donald). Surnames can also be occupational, such as Smith or Stewart and can also be topographical, such as Hill. The last major category of surnames are descriptive surnames, which commonly started out as monikers given to people but which stuck to the people throughout their lives and to their family after their death. A good example of a descriptive surname is Brown, which was used to describe the darker skin of a number of peoples.
Surnames commonly continue to evolve as their original form gets corrupted over time, but due to the prevalence of the original form, it is never quite replaced. Stuart, for example, comes from Stewart, which also originates from the word Steward.
Surnames can be quite fascinating, and tracing your surname can help you find out the earliest origins of your family. Some families even build family trees on the Internet and can help you place yourself on the tree if you belong to that family.
In any case, you can visit Locatemyname.com if you want to get more information on your surname. This site contains a veritable treasure trove of information, including the prevalence of the name in different countries, its etymology, and domain names on the Internet that feature it.