Surnames in Britain have derived from a variety of origins and weave a fascinating history. Here are the top 20 most common last names in Britain.
Last names in Britain have derived from many different origins, including the family occupation, where a person lived, and even how they looked or what they wore.
To find out more about the most common last names in Britain, what they mean, and where they came from, read on.
20. Clarke – of English/Scottish origin
Clarke or Clark is a popular name in Britain derived from the Latin clericus, meaning scribe, secretary, or scholar within a religious order.
Some famous Clarks are British singer Petula Clark and American TV and radio presenter Dick Clark.
19. Jackson – of English origin
One of the most common last names in Britain is Jackson, which literally means “son of Jack”.
Famous Jacksons are American singer-songwriter Michael Jackson and American actor Samuel L. Jackson.
18. Wood – of English origin
Wood is a common English surname with historical links to Great Britain. It originated as a topographic name that was to describe someone who lived or worked in a forest.
Some famous people with the surname Wood include American actor Elijah Wood and English rock musician Ronnie Wood.
17. Moore – of Irish origin
Deriving from Middle English mor, meaning bog or open land, or the Old Irish O’Mordha, from the Irish Gaelic word mordha, meaning stately and noble, Moore is one of the most popular Irish surnames around Britain.
Famous Moores include American-British actress Julianne Moore and American actress Demi Moore.
16. Green – of English origin
One of the most common last names in England is Green. This old Anglo-Saxon name most-likely derives from the name given to the firstborn by a family who lived in the village green.
American singer-songwriters Cee Lo Green and Al Green are two of the most famous people with the name Green.
15. Roberts – of Welsh origin
The surname Roberts comes from the given name Robert. In Wales, the name would denote “son of Robert”.
Some of the most famous people with the surname Roberts are American actresses Julia Roberts, Emma Roberts, and Doris Roberts.
14. White – of English, Scottish, or Irish origin
It is uncertain whether the surname White derives from English, Scottish, or Irish origin. One of the possible origins of the surname is its use as a descriptive for someone of fair complexion.
One of the most famous people with the last name White is American actress Betty White.
13. Walker – of German origin
Deriving from either the Middle High German profession of walker or fuller, the last name Walker remains popular in Britain today.
Famous Walkers include American actor Paul Walker and American novelist Alice Walker.
12. Evans – of Welsh origin
The surname Evans is of Welsh origin, and in its anglicised form, it means “son of Evan”.
Famous Evans include American actors Chris Evans and Luke Evans.
11. Thompson – of Scottish origin
One of the most common last names in Britain is Thompson. It is of Scottish origin, and it means “son of Thom or Thomas”.
One of the most famous people with the surname Thompson is English actress Emma Thompson.
10. Wright – of English origin
This occupational surname originated in England. Meaning woodworker in Middle English, it later came to denote a shipwright, i.e. a person who works on ships.
One of the most famous people with this surname is American actress Robin Wright.
9. Robinson – of English origin
Meaning “son of Robin”, this popular surname derives from English origin.
Famous Robinsons include the famous American baseball player Jackie Robinson and American singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson.
8. Johnson – of English and Scottish origin
Deriving from English and Scottish origin, Johnson is one of the most common names in Britain and means “son of John”.
Famous Johnsons include American actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and former President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson.
7. Wilson – of English and Scottish origin
One of the most famous people with this surname is American actor Owen Wilson.
6. Davies – of Welsh origin
It is believed that the name Davies is a corruption of the third-century Dyfed of the Welsh dynasty.
One of the most famous people with the surname Davies is English singer-songwriter Ray Davies.
5. Williams – of English, Welsh, French, and Italian origin
Williams is one of the most common last names in Britain. It originated in medieval England, Wales, France, and Italy, and it means “son of William”.
One of the most famous people with the last name William was American actor Robin Williams.
4. Brown – of English origin
The surname Brown is of English origin, and it derives from its use as a descriptive for someone with brown hair, complexion, or clothing.
3. Taylor – of French origin
Taylor derives from the French occupational surname to describe someone who works as a tailor.
Famous Taylors include American actress Elizabeth Taylor and American singer-songwriter James Taylor.
2. Jones – of Welsh origin
Jones tops the list for most popular names in Wales, so it is no surprise that it is of Welsh origin. Meaning “son of Ioan”, the name evolved from the Hebrew Johan.
1. Smith – of English origin
The surname Smith is not only one of the most common names in Britain but also happens to be the most common last name in Europe too.
Deriving from the profession of a blacksmith, the surname Smith originated in England.
Some of the most famous people with this surname are American actor Will Smith and English actress Maggie Smith.