There are around 45,000 English surnames that have been inherited since people started to need a bit of specificity when referring to 'John'.
According to Ancestry.co.uk, this became commonplace around the time of Norman conquest in 1066, when the population grew.
Surnames began to follow along the lines of roughly seven formats, and if you have an English surname the chances are one of them fits the bill for you:
1. Place names
If you have the surname 'Bedford', 'Burton', 'Hamilton', 'Hampshire', 'London' or 'Sutton', it's probable your ancestors once called the place in question home.
For example, the Beckhams' name originates from a place in Norfolk named Beckham, or in the Old English, 'Becca'.
Unsurprisingly, this is to do with the jobs and standing of people in society.
Names that would fall into this bracket would be:
Archer, Baker, Brewer, Butcher, Carter, Cartwright, Clark, Cooper, Cook, Dyer, Farmer, Faulkner, Fisher, Fuller, Gardener, Glover, Head, Hunt or Hunter, Judge, Mason, Page, Parker, Potter, Sawyer, Slater, Smith, Taylor, Thatcher, Turner, Wainwright, Weaver, Woodman, and Wright.
In addition, an '-s' suffix to a name could imply your ancestors were servants, for example a 'Vickers' may have worked for a 'Vicker'.
3. Personal characteristics
These were given to reflect a notable trait fo the person for easy description.
For example, those with the surnames 'Short', 'Little' or 'Long' may have been outliers in height, while those of a certain character may have been called 'Stern', 'Strong' or 'Swift'.
4. Estate names
Those who descend from landowners may be named after the estates or castles.
For an example you only need to look to the royal family - 'Windsor'.
Picture: Ranald Mackechnie/Royal Mail/Getty Images
5. Geographical features
If you lived somewhere of note, then there's a chance you would be named after it.
Atwood, Bridge, Brooks, Bush, Camp, Fields, Forest, Greenwood, Grove, Hill, Knolles, Lake, Moore, Perry, Stone, Wold, Wood, and Woodruff.
If your name ends in a -son or -ott, there are fair odds your name is either patronymic or matronymic - so given from a father or mother to offspring.
Or indeed if you have a Scottish clan name.
Armstrong, Benson, Cameron, Davis, Campbell, Crawford, Dawson, Douglas, Emmott, Evans, Forbes, Grant, Harris, Harrison, Henderson, Hunter, Jackson, Jones, MacDonald, Madison, Marriott, Molson, Nicholson, Richardson, Robinson, Rogers, Simpson, Stephenson, Stewart, Thompson, Watson, and Wilson.
7. Signifying patronage
These will have been constructed to honour a patron. For example, 'Hickman' was Richard's man, while 'Kilpatrick' was a follower of Patrick.