Great British Family Names and Their History (What’s in a Name?) by John Moss

Published by Pen & Sword Books, 2019

Having very kindly been provided with a copy of this book by Pen & Sword, I was intrigued to see if it was indeed a “fascinating guide for genealogists and budding family historians wanting to learn more about their name and its history”.

The author admits that the book is only a snapshot and a personal selection, so you may be disappointed not to find the surname you are looking for. That being said, there are descriptions of over one hundred surnames for just the north west of England, from the Acker family of Little Moreton to the Worth Family of Tytherington. I found it immediately useful as an aide to a surname I was researching.

Each surname is elaborated on by covering the origin of the name and particulars of any lands or manor held, including details of prominent family members and their place in historical context. Each section is concise, eschewing in-depth investigation of the family in favour of a short appraisal, providing the reader with an excellent starting point for their own research.

As the title suggests, the book covers all areas of Britain, including Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Being laid out in area segments, the reader finds it easy to navigate to the area they require. As a further assistance, it also includes a full index of all the names included in the book, facilitating quick identification of the name and page required.

Should the reader be engaged in their own research, there is an excellent bibliography and a list of suggested useful websites.

I found that the book did indeed live up to its claim and would recommend it as an excellent resource book to add to any genealogist’s collection.

Grace Tabern ADLH Oxf. AGRA Member