Top 25 Surnames in T&T

What's in a name?

Did you know that some people do not have a surname/last name?

In fact, it is very common for people to have a mononym or only one name.

The concept of having a surname is a western concept and a relatively recent historical development that originated during the Middle Ages, or what some call ‘the dark ages”.

Surnames/last names are usually given based on a person’s geographic location or occupation.

Surnames usually establish family connections or other relations; hence it is sometimes referred to as a “Family name.”

Persons interested in conducting genealogical and historical record research usually use their surname as a starting point.

Today, Loop News is sharing with you the 10 most common surnames in Trinidad and Tobago

The list was compiled based on Information from Forbears, a website which specialises in genealogical records. Meanings of names were taken from

1: Mohammed: Over 25,000 Trinis bear this surname. The name is Muslim, a variant of Muhammad. This is the traditional English-language spelling. It is also common as a name adopted by Black Americans on conversion to Islam.

2: Ali: Muslim (widespread throughout the Muslim world): from the Arabic personal name Ali ‘meaning ‘high’, ‘lofty’, ‘sublime’. Over 17.000 people are said to have this surname.

3: Joseph: English, German, French, and Jewish: from the personal name, Hebrew Yosef. In medieval Europe this name was borne frequently but not exclusively by Jews; the usual medieval English vernacular form is represented by Jessup. In the Book of Genesis, Joseph is the favorite son of Jacob, who is sold into slavery by his brothers but rises to become a leading minister in Egypt. In the New Testament Joseph is the husband of the Virgin Mary, which accounts for the popularity of the given name among Christians.

4: Williams: English (also very common in Wales): patronymic from William. Over 14,000 people bear this surname.

5: Singh: Originally a Hindu Kshatriya name but now adopted by many different communities, from Sanskrit, ‘lion’, hence ‘hero’ or ‘eminent person.

6: Charles: Originates from the French form of the Germanic personal name Carl ‘man’ (which was Latinized as Carolus). In France the personal name was popular from an early date, due to the fame of the Emperor Charlemagne whose Latin name as Carolus Magnus, i.e. Charles the Great. It was introduced more successfully to Scotland in the 16th century by the Stuarts, who had strong ties with France, and was brought by them to England in the 17th century.

7: Thomas: English, French, German, Dutch, Danish, and South Indian: from the medieval personal name, of Biblical origin, from Aramaic t’om’a, a byname meaning ‘twin’. It was borne by one of the disciples of Christ, best known for his scepticism about Christ’s resurrection

8: Maharaj: Indian (north central): Hindu name, from Sanskrit maharaja ‘great king’, derived from a title denoting an accomplished practitioner (a master) of a particular skill or craft (for example singing, drumming, dancing, cooking, etc.) or a religious guru.

9: Rampersad: Name found among people of Indian origin in Guyana and Trinidad: variant of Rampersaud. About 9, 295 people bear this name.

10: Khan: From a personal name or status name based on Turkish khan ‘ruler’, ‘nobleman’. This was originally a hereditary title among Tartar and Mongolian tribesmen (in particular Genghis Khan, 1162–1227), but is now very widely used throughout the Muslim world as a personal name.

11: John: This personal name was adopted into Latin (via Greek) as Johannes, and has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe throughout the Christian era, being given in honour of St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, and of St. John the Evangelist, author of the fourth gospel, as well as others of the nearly one thousand other Christian saints of the name.

12: Lewis: English (but most common in Wales): from Lowis, Lodovicus, a Norman personal name composed of the Germanic elements hlod ‘fame’ + wig ‘war’. This was the name of the founder of the Frankish dynasty, recorded in Latin chronicles as Ludovicus and Chlodovechus (the latter form becoming Old French Clovis, Clouis, Louis, the former developing into German Ludwig). The

13: James: The form James comes from Latin Jacobus via Late Latin Jac(o)mus, which also gave rise to Jaime, the regular form of the name in Spanish (as opposed to the learned Jacobo). See also Jack and Jackman. This is a common surname throughout the British Isles, particularly in South Wales.

14: Alexander: Scottish, English, German, Dutch; also found in many other cultures: from the personal name Alexander, classical Greek Alexandros, which probably originally meant ‘repulser of men (i.e. of the enemy)’, from alexein ‘to repel’ + andros, genitive of aner ‘man’.

15: Hosein: muslim variant with Husain with 6, 487 people bearing the name.

16: Persad: Name found among people of Indian origin in Guyana and Trinidad: variant of Persaud.

17: George: English, Welsh, French, South Indian, etc.: from the personal name George, Greek Georgios, from an adjectival form, georgios ‘rustic’, of georgos ‘farmer’. This became established as a personal name in classical times through its association with the fashion for pastoral poetry

18: Edwards: English (also common in Wales): patronymic from Edward

19: Phillip: English and Scottish: variant spelling of Philip

20: Ramkissoon: Name found among people of Indian origin in Guyana and Trinidad: variant of Indian Ramakrishnan

21: Roberts: English: patronymic from the personal name Robert. This surname is very frequent in Wales and west central England. It is also occasionally borne by Jews, presumably as an Americanized form of a like-sounding Jewish surname.

22: Francis: English: from the personal name Francis (Old French form Franceis, Latin Franciscus, Italian Francisco). This was originally an ethnic name meaning ‘Frank’ and hence ‘Frenchman’. The personal name owed much of its popularity during the Middle Ages to the fame of St. Francis of Assisi (1181–1226), whose baptismal name was actually Giovanni but who was nicknamed Francisco because his father was absent in France at the time of his birth.

23: Baptiste: French and English: from a medieval personal name, derived from the distinguishing epithet of St. John the Baptist, who baptized people, including Jesus Christ, in the river Jordan (Mark 1:9), and was later beheaded by Herod. T

24: Pierre: the French personal name Pierre (see Peter).from Old French pierre ‘stone’, ‘rock’ (Latin petra), a topographic name for someone who lived on a patch of stony soil or by a large outcrop of rock, or a metonymic occupational name for a quarryman or stonemason.

25: Smith: English: occupational name for a worker in metal, from Middle English smith (Old English smiš, probably a derivative of smitan ‘to strike, hammer’). Metal-working was one of the earliest occupations for which specialist skills were required, and its importance ensured that this term and its equivalents were perhaps the most widespread of all occupational surnames in Europe

Top 25 surnames in T&T
BY: Laura Dowrich-P...
17:59, November 17, 2015

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