Fascinating reason surnames became commonplace in England

A woman has shared a “cool” reason behind why surnames became commonplace in England.

She claimed that before 1400, not many people had a surname; only rich people did, and that was to show off who they were descended from.

So, if you were a peasant living in a village, you would most likely spend your entire life there, so there was no need for a second name, she added.

But what would happen if two people in the same village had the same name? TikToker, jdraperlondon, has the answer.

She said: “If there are two people called John in your village, you can just say ‘John, Ilbert’s son’ or ‘that’s John from Wescott’.”

However, the Black Death came along, and the need for surnames was evident.

@jdraperlondon I will not be taking criticism on naming my random villager “Ilbert” #medievaltiktok #medieval #surname #history #DidYouKnow #LearnOnTiktok #tourguide ♬ original sound – J. Draper London

jdraperlondon said: “After the Black Death there’s not enough people to work the land anymore.

“So to stop the harvest rotting in the fields, landowners get desperate, and they say, ‘Look I know you’ve been bound to that land and that manor for hundreds of years, your father before you but if you break your bond and come over here, I will pay you twice as much.’

“So people start moving around more for work, and now it’s much more common that you’re going to need to distinguish yourself from other people with the same name.

“Hence, by 1400, pretty much everyone in England has a surname.”

TikTok users flooded the comments, with one person writing: “I had no idea! This is so cool”.

Another person commented: “It’s funny how the reason for adding names was not that there were too many people, but that there were suddenly not enough people.”

A third person quipped: “Kind of like how I note the occupation of people in my phone after their name, for example ‘Nicu mechanic’.”

“It’s fascinating just how much the Black Death changed that still affects our lives today!” said another.

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