Giving new life to extinct surnames

There are no more Spinsters.

That’s because, according to, the surname Spinster is extinct.

The last names Bread, MacCaa, Pussett, Puscat, Pussmaid, Bythesea, and Bytheseashore also are reported as being extinct as of 2011. The last survivors carrying the name have passed away.

I have a soft spot for surnames nearing the end of their life.

As a woman living in a society in which a bride traditionally takes the husband’s surname, I was happy to adopt the name Barichello. Equally, I was reluctant to let go of my maiden name, Stroebel. The reason for the reluctance is that I didn’t want to see the end of the line for my family’s surname. In a household of daughters, there is no one left to carry on the Stroebel lineage from my father’s line.

That’s one of the reasons for my tongue twister of an author name. As proud as I am to be a Barichello, I was a Stroebel much longer. I wanted to honor that and keep both surnames alive on book covers.

Similarly, writers can keep endangered or extinct names alive through character names.

Embed from Getty Images

If you’re a writer struggling to find a surname for a character, consider some of the following. MyHeritage, a family tree-building website, posted 15 surnames that are extinct or endangered. The site lists 11 names with fewer than 20 bears left in the world:

  • Berrycloth,
  • Birdwhistle,
  • Dankworth,
  • Fernsby,
  • Miracle,
  • Loughty,
  • MacQuoid,
  • Relish,
  • Sallow,
  • Tumbler,
  • and Villin (Villan),


and an additional four with fewer than 200 bearers:

  • Ajax,
  • Edevane,
  • Gastrell,
  • and Slora.
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1 Response to Giving new life to extinct surnames

  1. trinitygrau says:

    Thanks for offering these! I will definitely be considering some of them in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

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