GENIRE-L ArchivesArchiver > GENIRE > 2003-03 > 1046918614
From: "Sean MacLochlainn" <>
Subject: Re: "SURNAMES" - When did this practice start????
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2003 02:43:34 -0000
> Can anyone tell me when did the practice of using a "surname" became
> legal. This would clear up some issues for me. And if known, what
> country started it initially. From some very "iffy" research it
> looks like it started in the late 1600s.
Surnames were adopted in different countries at different times.
Icelanders, for instance, do not bear surnames even today. The first Irish
surname was O Cleirigh, attested in 976 AD. Many other Irish surnames are
attested in the next two hundred years, including my own.
Some people will tell you that Brian Boru (a king of Munster who died 1014)
decreed that surnames become compulsory in Ireland, but there is absolutely
no evidence that this occurred. Surnames were a matter of practice rather
than a legal requirement.