When the British turned up to conquer the likes of Australia, Canada and the US, they brought their surnames with them. Centuries on, Smith remains the most common last name in all of the above.
Indeed, across the United States it is shared by one in every 121 residents. And it has long been the most prevalent surname in the UK where it first originated (just ask Telegraph Travel’s digital editor Oliver Smith, who has the most boring name in Britain).
Smith derives from ‘blacksmith’, a popular trade throughout much of human history. In Luxembourg, too, the most common surname is ‘Schmit’, which derives from the Middle High German ‘smit’, again meaning ‘blacksmith’.
We didn’t always use last names…