Medieval English Surnames

The Norman invasion of 1066 introduced a large stock of continental Germanic and French names. Although the Normans, or Norsemen, had only been settled in northern France for about two generations, they retained little of their original language and the naming pattern was altered. French influence had reached Britain already through Edward the Confessor who was brought up by his mother Emma's relatives in Brittany, although this was limited almost exclusively to court circles. (Canute the Dane had defeated Edward's father, Ethelred, and married Emma.)

The Normans brought both servants and ordinary fighting men whose sphere was far outside that of the nobles and the linguistic structure that was to become English began to be formed. Literacy became more widespread and a classical influence became apparent, especially in girls' names. Some Saxon and Norse names were retained along with their Norman counterparts but they gradually became less common. Anglo-Saxon and Norman French names can be similar due to the common Germanic roots of the Angles, Saxons and Vikings.

Formation of Surnames

The Anglo-Saxons used only personal names, sometimes with nicknames and patronymics, so it was not until after the Norman Conquest that inherited surnames were adopted. Originally these were only borne by nobles and were likely to be restricted to the place of origin, preceded by 'de' as in modern French, or the father's name preceded by 'Fitz' (from French fils 'son').

Later, sources included:

Norman French family names and nicknames brought by the Normans (see below)
Old English/Saxon family names taken from personal names, usually male
Linknames common first names and patronymics
Nicknames descriptions of appearance or character (Short, Brown, Redhead)
Trade names indicated what trade a person or his ancestors followed
Localities where in the village/town one lived (Hill, Green, Church, Field, Townsend)
Placenames place of origin (North, York, Southey, Lancaster)

Surnames

Achard
Addinell Adeney Aguilon
Albelin Alevi Alis
Altard Ansgot Anzeray
Arundel Aschuill Asselin
Auber Aubert Auffrye
Aungier Auvray Azor
Bachiler Baignard Bailleul
Bainard Baliol Ballard
Barkentin Basnage Basset
Baudry Baujot Bauldry
Bauquemare Bavent Beaumanoir
Beaumarchais Beaumont Beauvallet
Becdelièvre Bele Belet
Bellecote Belmis Benoist
Beringar Berners Bernières
Bertran Bigot Blancbaston
Blangi Blosbeville Blouet
Bohon Boisivon Boislevesque
Boissel Boivin Bolam
Bolbec Bondeville Bonel
Bonenffant Boneth Bonvalet
Bordel Bosanquet Bosc
Bosiet Bossard Bostel
Boteler Boterel Botin
Bouchard Bourchier Bourdekin
Bourdet Bourneville Bradwardine
Brai Braund Brebeuf
Brereton Bretel Breteuil
Bretteville Brèvedent Brimou
Brinon Briouse Briqueville
Brix Buci Budi
Bulli Burci Burguet
Buron Bursigni Busnois
Busquent Caen Cailli
Caillot Cairon Calmette
Cambrai Campion Canaigres
Canouville Caradas Carbonnel
Cardon Cardonell Carnet
Carteret Castillon Caunter
Cavelier Ceauce Cely
Challenge Chandos Chartres
Chauncy Cheney Cherbourg
Cioches Claville Clerinell
Clinchamps Coliar Colleville
Colombelles Colombieres Comyn
Conteville Corbet Corbière
Corbon Cormeilles Corneilles
Corviser Cosin Couci
Couer Courcelle Courcelles
Courci Courcon Courcy
Courseume Craon Crevecoeur
Croc Cruel Cugey
Cul de Louf Culai Cumin
Curteys d'Ouilli d'Adreci
d'Aguillon d'Albert d'Alencon
Dalyngridge d'Amboise d'Ambray
Damours d'Andeli d'Andre
d'Angers d'Angerville d'Angleville
Danneville d'Ansleville Danvers
Darcy Darell d'Argentan
D'Argouges d'Argues d'Armentieres
d'Arques d'Athenous d'Aubernon
d'Auberville d'Audrieu d'Aufai
d'Aumale Daunger d'Aunon
D'Auvay D'Auvrecher d'Avranches
d'Avre de Bailleul de Balon
de Bans de Bapaumes de Barbes
de Beauchamp de Beaufou de Beaumais
de Beaumont de Beauvais de Bellehache
de Bellemare de Bellièvre de Belmeis
De Berchelai de Bercheres de Bernai
de Bernieres de Berranger de Berville
de Bethencourt de Bienfaite de Biville
de Blays de Blundville de Bouilon
de Bourgueville de Breos de Cahaihnes
de Calmesnil de Caulmont de Caux
de Challon de Chefderue de Civille
de Corbeil de Cormeilles de Coucy
de Courseilles de Croismare de Faicterau
De Felius De Fry de Genville
de Gosbeck de Grieu de Hanivel
de Hattes de Herle de Ireby
de La Champagne de La Hay de La Mare
de La Noue de La Place de La Porte
de La Reue de La Roche de Lampérière
de Lombelon de Lorraine de Malhortye
de Maromme de Massard de Mesniel
de Mesnildo de Monchy de Monluc
de Montchrestien de Montfault de Montgomery
de Moustiers de Moy de Munchesney
de Pardieu de Perronet de Pinchemont
de Recusson de Rely de Reymes
de Roncherolles de Salynges de Saussay
de Savage de Seguzzo de Servian
de Seyssel de Tanie de Tocni
de Toeni de Valles de Vandes
de Vaux de Vesci de Villy
de Viuepont de Vymont d'Ecouis
d'Engagne d'Eresby des Moutiers
des Vaux d'Escalles Deschamps
Desmares d'Espagne Destain
d'Eu d'Evreux d'Helion
d'Hericy d'Houdetot Digby
d'Incourt Ditton Dive Beugelin
d'Ivri Dol Hugue d'Olgeanc
d'Orbec d'Orglande d'Ornontville
Douai Dreux Droullin
Druel du Bec du Bois-Hebert
du Bosc-Roard du Breuil Du Buisson
Du Gouey du Merle Du Moucel
du Perche Du Perron du Quesnai
du Saussai du Theil du Tilleul
Dubosc Dufay Dufour
Duhamel Dumont d'Unepac
Dupasquier Duquesne Durandal
Durerie Durjardin Durville
Duval Dyel Ecouland
Elers Emory Engerrand
Erquemboure Espec Esteney
Evelyn Eveque Faceby
Faintree Falaise Fantosme
Faucon Fecamp Fergant
Ferrieres Feu Fitzalan
Fitzherbert Fitzhugh Fitzroy
Flambard Folet Foliot
Fonnereau Fontemai Fossard
Fougeres Fourneaux Framan
Fresle Fribois Froissart
Fromentin Furnival Gael
Gand Garin Gaveston
Gibard Giffard Gillain
Gilpin Giscard Glanville
Godart Godefroy Gomboult
Gouel Goulaffre Gournai
Grai Grancourt Grentemesnil
Grenteville Greslet Griffin
Grimoult Grouchet Groulart
Guéribout Guernon Gueron
Guideville Guiffart Guildersleeve
Guinand Gurney Guyot
Hachet Halacre Hallé
Hamage Harcourt Haute
Hauville Hédiart Hendry
Herbard Heriet Heuzé
Hewse Hodenc Holland
Hotot Hue Hugonin
Hynde Ide Jolland
Jubert la Berviere la Bruiere
la Cleve la Foret la Guierche
la Mare la Pommeraie la Riviere
La Vache La Verrier Labbé
Laci l'Adoube l'Aigle
Lallement l'Ane Lanquetot
l'Appeville l'Archer l'Aune
Le Barge le Berruier Le Blanc
le Blond le Bouguignon le Breton
Le Chandelier Le Clerc Le Conte
Le Cordier Le Cornu le Despensier
Le Doulcet le Flamand le Gaucher
Le Goix Le Grant Le Gras
Le Jumel Le Lieur Le Maistre
Le Marchant le Marechal Le Marinier
Le Masson Le Paulmier Le Pelletier
Le Pesant le Poitevin Le Prévost
le Roux Le Roux Le Seigneur
le Senechal Le Sueur Le Tellier
le Vicomte Lefebre l'Estourmi
Letre Levasseur Lhuillier
Libourg Ligonier L'ile
Linesi Lisieux Loges
Lorz Loucelles Louet
Louvet Lovet Lucy
Ludel Lynom Machault
Machel Maci Maignart
Malet Mallebisse Malleville
Mallilie Mallory Malvallet
Malveisin Maminot Mandeville
Manneilli Mansel Mantel
Marchés Marchmain Marci
Marescot Margas Mariage
Marillac Marisco Martel
Mathan Maubenc Maudit
Mauduit Maunsell Maurouard
Mautravers Maynet Medley
Mercier Meri Merteberge
Mesnage Meulan Meules
Meverel Middleton Mobec
Moion Monceaux Montacute
Montaigu Montbrai Mont-Canisi
Montfiquet Montfort Montgomery
Montgommeri Moron Morphew
Mortagne Mortain Mortemer
Mortmain Moyaux Mucedent
Munneville Murdac Musard
Musart Mussegros Mustel
Nelond Neot Nesdin
Neufmarche Neuville Noyers
Omand Orlebar Ormond
Osmond Osmont Ouistreham
Painel Paixdecouer Pancevolt
Pantoul Papelion Papon
Paris Parry Parthenai
Paschal Pasquier Pastforeire
Patris Paumera Peccoth
Peche Peis Pennant
Perci Péricard Perroy
Petremol Peveril Pevrel
Picard Picot Picvini
Pierrepont Pinel Pipin
Pippery Piquiri Pistres
Pithou Plucknet Poer
Poignant Poillei Pointel
Pont Pont de l'Arche Pontchardon
Port Postel Poussin
Prestcote Puchot Quesnel
Quièvremont Quincarnon Raimbeaucourt
Rainecourt Raleigh Rames
Raoullin Rassent Ravenot
Rennes Renold Restault
Reviers Riebou Rivière
Roard Rocque Roger
Romé Romenel Ros
Rosai Rou Roussel
Runeville Sacquerville Saint-Clair
Sainte-d'Aignaux Saint-Germain Saint-Helene
Saint-Leger Saint-Ouen Saint-Quentin
Saint-Sanson Saint-Valeri Saint-Waleri
Saisset Sauvigni Scolland
Séguier Senarpont Senlis
Sept-Meules Simnel Sollers
Somneri Sourdeval Strivelyn
Stukely Tabraham Taillebois
Taillepied Talvace Tessel
Thaon Theroulde Thibault
Thiboust Thorel Tibon
Tilly Tinel Tirel
Toclive Torteval Touchet
Tourlaville Tourmente Tournai
Tournebulle Tournebut Tourneville
Toustain Tranchant Trelli
Tulles Urry Valance
Valognes Vastel Vatteville
Vaubadon Vauville Vaux
Vavassour Veci Venois
Ventris Ver Verdun
Vernold Vernon Verrall
Vesci Vesli Veteripont
Vieuxpont Villehardain Villon
Vipont Vis-de-Louf Vis-de-Loup
Vitalis Vivers Viville
Voisin Wadard Warci
Watteau Werables Willoughby
Wissant Ygou  
   

Noble Families

These surnames all occurred amongst the nobility during medieval times. Some titled families still bear them today. Historically, a duke or earl often tended to be known by his title (Warwick, Northumberland, Suffolk, Norfolk, Gloucester, York, Lancaster, March, Leicester) but would have a family name as well. Sometimes, the heir to an estate would change his name to that of the original family if he was not in the direct line.

Beauchamp
Bigod Bohun Boleyn
Cecil Courteney Dacre
de Braose de Burgh de Clare
de la Pole de Lacy de Montfort
Devereux Dudley Fairfax
Ferrers Fiennes Fitton
Herbert Howard Lovell
Montague Mortimer Mowbray
Neville Percy Quincey
Russell Sidney Stafford
Stanley Talbot Umfraville
Vane Vaughan Woodville