Australia is a melting pot of people from different places and cultures. However, it was not always like this – it was once a British colony that only started celebrating multiculturalism and diversity in the early 1970s.
This is very apparent in their surnames and their meanings. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular surnames in Australia and trace their roots from different origins.
Given the country’s history with the UK, naming traditions have been passed down from its colonizers. From naming structure to the creative practices of nicknaming, British influence has been absorbed deeply into Australia’s naming traditions.
Australian names follow English naming conventions. They start with the first name or “given name”, which is then followed by the middle given name(s) and ends with the surname or “family name”. For example, Mary Maggie Williams.
Similar to the UK, Australians have informal words. While the British use words like “telly” for television or “brit” for Britain, Australia takes this a step further by applying abbreviations to or changing names completely, typically to signal close friendship.
For example, Cheryl doesn’t just become “Cher”. Australians may instead say “Chezzie”. It is also common for Australians to refer to people as “mate” (for males) or “love” (for females)/
Take a look at Australian white pages, and you’ll see that the most common surnames have similar origins. Aside from surnames that come from non-British countries (evidence of the country’s diversity), the most common Australian surnames are either patronymic, occupational, or descriptive.
Surnames in Australia are often derived from someone’s paternal ancestry. This is created by adding a prefix or a suffix to the name. For instance, MacDonald is a surname of Scottish origin, meaning “son of Donald”.
Some of the most common surnames in Australia refer to someone’s occupation. For example, Fisher is a surname that may have referred to someone who was a fisherman by trade.
Some common surnames in Australia are based on personal descriptions of an ancestor. These last names may describe someone’s skin (e.g. White), physical attributes (e.g. Armstrong), or height (e.g. Little), among others.
The most common Australian surnames show the history of certain groups of people moving from one part of the world to the land down under. Below are some examples of common surnames in Australia:
Aside from aboriginal Australians, most Aussies have roots that trace back to other countries – this explains why most of the common Australian surnames trace back to the UK.
Tracing your surname’s origins is one way to learn about your family’s history. Another way is to look at old photos. Restore your vintage and damaged photos today with Image Restoration!