Including English, Welsh and Scottish surnames, British last names have made their way all over the world. While Welsh and Scottish names usually originate from their own Celtic languages (Cymric and Scots Gaelic), English last names tend to originate from occupations, places, or Anglicizations of first names in other languages.
When we think of Britain, we imagine a revolutionary history and unforgettable leaders like King George V and Queen Elizabeth II. Some may think of TV shows like Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, or Sherlock (and that’s OK too). Whichever suits your fancy the most, it’s safe to say Britain is usually associated with politeness, wit, and nobility. One of the first things you learn about someone is their name, and when you come across one of British origin, it can give an air of refinement and civility (even if the person is the complete opposite). So if you’re looking to change your name or just interested in the meaning of one, we’ve got you covered.
Due to a combination of immigration and colonization, the most common British surnames across the globe are of English origin. Some of the most popular ones stem from translations of Hebrew or German first names. If you’re looking for the most popular British last names and their meanings, you’re not alone in that one. According to the latest search data available, that query is searched for over 12,000 times per month. Check out our list of popular British last names to find out their meanings and origins.
If you’re interested in the last names and meanings from other countries, check out our package on last names from around the world. See how many you recognize: Irish, French, Spanish, Mexican, Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, and African last names, among others.
Common British Last Names
Meaning: Son of Adam. A Hebrew first name that means man.
Meaning: Son of William. A German first name that means resolute protector.
Meaning: Fort settlement.
Meaning: Son of Harry or Henry. A German first name that means home-ruler.
Meaning: Son of Steven or Stephen. A Greek first name that means crown or wreath.
Meaning: Son of Robin. A German first name that means fame or bright.
Meaning: From the Welsh name Llywelyn, which means leader.
Meaning: Occupational name for someone who presses or beats cloth.
Meaning: Rustic or countryman.
Meaning: Occupational name for a baker.
Meaning: From the Welsh name Owain, which means noble or well-born.
Meaning: Trader, monger, or merchant.
Meaning: Weaver or to weave.
Meaning: Son of John. A Hebrew first name that means “God is gracious.”
Meaning: Son of David. A Hebrew first name that means beloved.
Meaning: To nourish or rear.
Meaning: Son of Matthew. A Hebrew first name that means “Gift of God.”
Meaning: Of pale or fair complexion.
Meaning: Strong chief.
Meaning: Occupational name for a knight or soldier.
Meaning: A raven or dark-haired person.
Meaning: The younger or junior one.
Meaning: Son of Evan. A Hebrew first name that means “God is gracious.”
Meaning: A woodworker.
Meaning: John’s kin or little John.
Meaning: Dweller by the village green.
Meaning: Son of Hugh or Hugo. A German first name that means mind.
Meaning: A manor house.
Meaning: Son of Andrew.
Meaning: A man with strong arms.
Meaning: Son of Atkins.
Meaning: A French name that means beautiful.
Meaning: A Scottish and Irish name that means someone who moves goods by transport.
Meaning: Son of Colin.
Meaning: Son of David.
Meaning: Berry wood.
Meaning: Slope or hill.
Meaning: Son of Dick.
Meaning: Prosperity guard.
Meaning: Brown complexion or clothing. An Old English word that means brun.
Meaning: Clerk. A Latin word that means clericus.
Meaning: Gatekeeper or family name of people who lived near the gates of a walled town.
Meaning: Happy or blessed.
Meaning: Dweller by the tree stump. A French name for someone with a stocky build.
Meaning: Fishermen or salmon.
Meaning: Arrowsmith or seller of arrows.
Meaning: An Irish name that means Fuartháin or descendant of O Fuarthán.
Meaning: A Scottish name that means Gilbert, son of Gilbert, or son of Gib.
Meaning: Grey home or a common last name for people who belong to a clan.
Meaning: Tall or large.
Meaning: Grey hair.
Meaning: Someone who lives near a willow or dead willow trees.
Meaning: Fern or farmstead.
Meaning: A commoner or a servant in a noble household.
Meaning: Refers to a farmstead, or an enclosed settlement.
Meaning: Taste or flavor; something remaining, that which is left behind.
Meaning: The name of two villages in Tayside; a lake or inlet.
Meaning: A family name of people who live near the town of Padiham in Lancashire or Dewsbury in Yorkshire.
Meaning: Grove, or wood; a ravine or steep slope.
Meaning: Palm bearer.
Meaning: Son of Peter (Scandinavian); stone or rock (Greek).
Meaning: Forest or shrub.
Meaning: Horn or headland.
Meaning: Red cliff.
Meaning: Warden or wall guardian.
Meaning: Maker of objects from wood or metal.
Meaning: Foreigner or Welshman.
Meaning: Barrel maker.
Meaning: Of the marsh.
Meaning: Son of Walter.
Meaning: Son of Harry.
Meaning: Sea dweller.
Meaning: Crooked mouth or wry-mouthed.
Meaning: Regional name for someone from Cornwall.
Meaning: Eastern town or homestead.
Meaning: Homestead by an island or a river.
Meaning: Ella’s town.
Meaning: Last names of people who live near a lamb field.
Meaning: Wild boar or woodland clearing.
Meaning: Derives from the last name of Rev. Francis Gastrell.
Meaning: A habitational surname.
Meaning: A tiny semi-automatic handgun in Europe.
Meaning: Originates from Charles Pratt who sold lots from his manor.
Fancy British Last Names
Meaning: Light or independent and strong-willed.
Meaning: Field of beans.
Meaning: “One who glues together,” or “is bound.”
Meaning: A rock star.
Meaning: “With a life path.”
Meaning: Foolish flame.
Meaning: Trader or someone who resembles a bird.
Meaning: Leader of the clan or helmet.
Meaning: Someone from Laurentium.
Meaning: Horse or someone who tends to horses.
Meaning: God, bear, or “soldier of God.”
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