Favourite Book(s) #24 – The Surnames Handbook by Debbie Kennett

Surname HandbookFirstly, a disclaimer – I know the author. Debbie Kennett is a fellow member of the Guild of One-Name Studies and has no idea that her book has made by favourite book list!

This is a great book (published 2012) whether you are new to surnames research or have been focusing on it for decades. The foreward is written by the President, Derek Palgrave.

As someone who is researching a European surname there is not much in this book to guide you, but I urge you to not let that discourage you from reading it! It has a distinct British focus, but that is not to exclude other regions, but it gives a clear foundation for studies whose surname originate from the British Isles.

Let’s go back a bit – Britain, whether that is prior to the formation of the Union with Scotland or not, desperately sought to claim lands in other parts of the world. In doing so, surnames whose origins are in the British Isles are found across the globe, including Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, parts of the pacific and many other places. There is a huge population in Patagonia of those with Welsh heritage and surnames for example.

For a researcher who resides outside of the UK, but researching a surname with ancestors whose roots are British, this gives a great foundation to that research and does focus on some data that is not found elsewhere, for example Hearth Tax which is explained with a link to the National Archives. This data gives insight into the financial status of your 17th Century ancestor, for the simple reason the more windows your house had, the more money you had and therefore the Hearth Tax you paid! Another example is the Protestation Returns, this dates back to 1641 where men over the age of 18 had to swear an oath to King James the First (James I).

At the back of the book is a wealth of information – links to other sites (some have since publication been folded into other genealogical organisations), organisations and journals, surname websites, Linguistic resources, Surname distribution maps, place name resources, populations studies and there is a substantial notes section as well as a chapter on DNA and surnames.

This book is also one of the two key text for the Advanced course in One-Name Studies course for which it is recommended that students have previously completed the Introduction course in One-Name Studies (next course runs 16 October 2018). The second key text for the advance course I wrote about here.

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This entry was posted in Books, Favourite Book(s), Genealogy, One-Name Studies, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course. Bookmark the permalink.

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