Hello everyone, today I have the pleasure to be sharing my review of Great British Family Names and Their History by John Moss, so if you are an avid family researcher like myself then you want to stick around and check out this fabulous book.
For better or worse, what we are is often determined by our family; the events that occurred many years before we were born and the choices that were made by our forebears are our inheritance – we are the inexorable product of family history. So it is with nations. The history of Great Britain has been largely defined by powerful and influential families, many of whose names have come down to us from Celtic, Danish, Saxon or Norman ancestors. Their family names fill the pages of our history books; they are indelibly written into the events which we learned about at school. Iconic family names like Wellington, Nelson, Shakespeare, Cromwell, Constable, De Montfort and Montgomery… there are innumerable others.
They reflect the long chequered history of Britain and demonstrate the assimilation of the many cultures and languages which have migrated to these islands over the centuries, and which have resulted in the emergence of our language.
This book is a snapshot of several hundred such family names and delves into their beginnings and derivations, making extensive use of old sources, including translations of The Domesday Book and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, as well as tracing many through the centuries to the present day.
OK, brief confession I did review this book because – and this is rather, selfish of me – I wanted to see if my own ancestors were named in it, after all my family name goes way back to the 1500’s – can you tell, I am on and have been on the family history trail for years? But, alas, my ancestors aren’t significant enough to be placed amongst these great families which are featured in this book. Oh well, we can’t have it all can we?
Anyhow, you don’t want to hear me rabbit on, your hear for a review. So, as you would have gathered from the title this little book is all about British names and their origins, and it is an illuminating read. Its one of those books that you can have on the sideboard or on the book shelf and pull it out and any time, you don’t have to read it in order but flick through it at your own pleasure. Its not a taxing read, in fact I wiled away many hours with this and before I knew it I had devoured it.
I love the layout out of this, its set out in sections for each corner of Britain, and in each section the names from that area or listed alphabetically, which makes navigating the book that much easier especially if you are looking for a particular location of name. If your like me and on the Genealogy trek then this is a must have for any family historians bookcase, even if it is all about the larger more well known and well developed British named. But you will be surprised that you will come across some very well known names and even – like myself – while reading you will go ‘Ooh, I know that name, my second uncles four times removed knew so and so’.
Each name is thoroughly researched, the author has kept their history light but precise so your not bombarded by constant names and facts. I like the brief account of each family name in the book, it is fascinating to read.
This is a must for anyone interested in family history, or specifically British Names and I would be of invaluable use for writers who are looking for a specific family or name to add to their work.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie!