Every county of England still has its distinctive names. Staffordshire has its Eardleys, Salts, Tooths and Wooliscrofts, Derbyshire its Greatorexes, Heathcotes, Ollerenshaws and Shimwells, Cornwall its Angoves, Annears, Keasts and Penhaligons, and Lancashire its Entwistles, Fazackerleys, Ramsbottoms and Sowerbuttses. Names can tell us a lot about the history of the English, about how they moved around or how they stayed rooted in a particular district. They also have much to teach us about the social structure of medieval and later England, its various ranks and occupations, the languages and dialects that were spoken, the sense of humour in bestowing nicknames, and the strong regional differences that are still apparent today.
A large number of sons who in turn had a large number of sons could soon make a name common in a locality. One of the chief findings about surnames in recent years is that each of the distinctive names of the various counties of England often sprang from just one medieval person. In other words, everyone bearing the same rare surname is likely to be distantly, if not closely, related. DNA testing of people bearing the same surname is beginning to prove this assertion.
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