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8 Reviews
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special names
For most of us, our surname is our oldest possession, yet we take it for granted. In this fascinating study of how our surnames came about, William Lewis takes us through a wonderful journey of discovery to show just how much the names that we use every day can tell us about the medieval world and about our own particular ancestors of eight hundred years ago...
Published on 3 May 2010 by C. M. Burnie

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3.0 out of 5 stars we'll researched but only covers a small sample of names
Quite interesting in parts. I felt it skipped over a lot of detail which would have aided readers researching the subject. Not a bad read but not as good as anticipated.
Published 15 months ago by Buzzscorpion


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special names, 3 May 2010
By 
C. M. Burnie "Thespian48" (Oxford UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
For most of us, our surname is our oldest possession, yet we take it for granted. In this fascinating study of how our surnames came about, William Lewis takes us through a wonderful journey of discovery to show just how much the names that we use every day can tell us about the medieval world and about our own particular ancestors of eight hundred years ago.

This is not a dictionary of surnames; it is an introduction, easily readable and accessible, to the story of our family names. Lewis tells us they fall into seven different categories: surnames from occupations (Baker, Miller), places (Lancaster, Wiltshire), local features (Attwood, Hillman), relationships (Fathers, Widdowson), words of affection (Dicken, Perkins), nicknames (Armstrong, Peacock), and personal names (Ambrose, Vincent).

Clearly Lewis loves his subject and introduces us to the medieval world of villagers carrying out their trades, many of which have survived only in our surnames; for example a Walker is one who walked or trampled newly woven cloth in running water to soften it before it was treated by the Dyer or his female counterpart, the Dexter. He also opens the door on the medieval sense of humour revealed through the nicknames our ancestors gave to each other, sometimes complimentary (Courage, Wise) and sometimes not so (Fox, Pride)

The book is scholarly and detailed, but immensely readable. It's one of those books you can either read straight through (as I did) or dip into from time to time (as I shall do). Lewis deals with over two thousand individual names, explaining the meanings of them all; then, at the end of the book, he casually mentions that he has covered only two percent of all surnames - lots more work to do then!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem, 1 Oct. 2010
This wonderful little book is a fascinating introduction to how surnames came about. It is well written and William Lewis conveys his enthusiasm for the subject, leaving this reader wanting to know more. A great book for dipping into.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Satisfied Customer, 10 Jun. 2012
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The book is one of the most comprehensive I've read on the subject. It's well laid out and easy to follow and has been thoroughly researched. It fills in gaps that have puzzled me since I started my own research in this area. An excellent book which I thoroughly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For those fascinated by the past., 9 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: What's in Your Surname?: The Fascinating Story of British Surnames (History of English Names Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed dipping into this and found it easy to read, I was disappointed that it only seemed to tackle England, but maybe Scotland, Ireland and Wales in the offing in another book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MY WIFE WAS HAPPY, 9 May 2014
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Mr. C. T. Jones "5Os Rocker" (READING , ENGLAND) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What's in Your Surname?: The Fascinating Story of British Surnames (History of English Names Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Nice product my wife was happy , it looks good so if the wifes happy so am and I that's what matters.
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3.0 out of 5 stars we'll researched but only covers a small sample of names, 23 Feb. 2014
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Buzzscorpion "buzzscorpion" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What's in Your Surname?: The Fascinating Story of British Surnames (History of English Names Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Quite interesting in parts. I felt it skipped over a lot of detail which would have aided readers researching the subject. Not a bad read but not as good as anticipated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read, 23 July 2014
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This review is from: What's in Your Surname?: The Fascinating Story of British Surnames (History of English Names Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
A wonderfully informative read and a good book for dipping in and out of but, having said that, I started to read it and could not put it down.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 18 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: What's in Your Surname?: The Fascinating Story of British Surnames (History of English Names Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Great read and very good for any genealogists out there whether they are just starting out or have been doing it for years.
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