Genes, DNA, and the derivation of our ancestors’ last names have always been a point of pride for many people and most likely will be for generations to come. With these surnames, we can know who we are and where we came from.
In the United States, people’s ancestors came from other established countries, especially during the Ellis Island period. So there was a gathering of many different cultures, languages, and countries in evidence as people came to settle in one place.
For those who are interested in where their ancestors came from and from where their last names are derived, there is now a website to help with that.
For example, many people in America have the surname of Smith. Several families have that same last name but are not necessarily related to each other or come from the same country. Well, there’s now a website that can help solve the confusion. Known as Forebears, it takes the genealogical data from several sources and shows how those people and/or their last name is dispersed throughout the world. What’s nice about the website is that it shows the rank of how common a person’s surname is, how many people have the same surname and whether the name would have been derived from an occupation, a male ancestor, or even a topographical feature.
One of the most common surnames worldwide is Wang. The website claims that there are 76,546,675 people, mostly in China, who have that name.
In Australia, the United States, and England, Smith is the most common family name; there are 4,299,506 Smiths in the world. A majority of those come from the United States, but Smith still only ranks as the 117th most common name in the world. The surname actually originated from the Anglo-Saxon word “smitan”, which means to smite or strike, denoting the occupation of a metal worker.
In the United States, Johnson and Williams are the second and third most common surnames. Garcia is the most common of Hispanic names and is the 13th most common surname in the United States. Here is the list of the top 10 most common surnames worldwide:
- Wang (China)
- Devi (India)
- Zhang (China)
- Li (China)
- Liu (China)
- Singh (India)
- Yang (China)
- Kumar (India)
- Wu (China)
- Xu (China)
In England, Jones, which is a patronymic surname that means the son of John, Johan, or Jone, is also quite popular. Williams comes from the medieval era and is derived from the forename William.
Anglo-Saxon surnames are rather popular in Australia, which has only three non-European names that make it into the top 50. Lee, having two origins – either from Europe or China – is the eighth most common name in Australia.
A popular Vietnamese surname, at the 38th most common name, is Nguyen, which was thought to have originally derived from Chinese origins.
Singh is the sixth most popular name in the world, ranked at number 50 in Australia. Singh is a word that all male Sikhs bear and derives from the Sanskrit word “lion”.
According to the website, not all names and statistics can be exactly correct, but they do give the best approximations. Here is a list of the top names worldwide by country in order:
Smith, Jones, Brown, Williams, Wilson, Taylor, Lee, Johnson, Anderson, White
- United States
Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, Davis, Anderson, Wilson, Taylor
Smith, Jones, Williams, Brown, Taylor, Patel, Wilson, Davies, Johnson, Evans
Photo Source: Forebears