Last Name Bookmark (N-Sh)
The front of the bookmark describes the origin of the last name.
The back of each bookmark reads:
The Birth of Family Names 1100-1500.
Contrary to popular belief, most given names preceded surnames by several centuries. The need for an additional name became apparent when, in the 11th century, landowners recorded payment of fines by vassals and needed to distinguish one John from another.
A family name not only indicates ones origin, but also occupation, such as baker or carpenter, physical characteristics, and the personal mannerisms of old, remote ancestors. Topographical names that distinguished localities were popular such as the compound name Sutcliffe, meaning from the South Cliff.
Surnames originated as descriptions of the person for reasons of better identification; thus Shea, the name of former Irish lords, meaning of descendent of Seathda, translates stately, majestic, courteous, learned, scientific and ingenious.