By J.W. Freeman
Most people take their surnames very much for granted, and yet they are one of our most personal and interesting possessions. Your surname can tell you quite a lot about your ancestors. Not all names are what they at first sight seem to be: if your name is Farmer, then an ancestor was a tax-collector; if it is Alabaster, then you are descended from a crossbowman. About 1500 surnames are included, and if your name is not amongst them then probably a very similar one is. This is an easy-to-read introduction to a fascinating subject.