The “Family Name” in England: An Ethnographic Example

By Josiane Massard-Vincent


On the basis of fieldwork carried out in a Derbyshire town (1998-2005), combining data from interviews as well as from Church of England baptism registers, the author focuses on the practice of giving (mainly male) children “family names” handed down in the family. Though part of the general stock of personal names, such names tend to be more traditional than those chosen by parents on an individual basis. Passing on family names as items of heirloom builds up family history and identity. Name-sharing is examined as part of kin relationships and in relation to the perception of time.


  • “family names”
  • passing on
  • kinship
  • perception of time
  • England
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