Surname Studies is devoted to the resources available for the study of the distribution, incidence and statistical analysis of the surnames of Britain, mainly post-1837, and primarily as a mass phenomenon.
An article by James Pylant. Surnames developed gradually and casually in the Middle Ages, not through a formal or legal system. In a growing population, there was a need to distinguish people with the same common first names within a village or town, and last names came about as a means of sorting who was who on the tax lists. But oftentimes our ancestors were saddled with surnames originating as uncomplimentary nicknames.