Skip to Content

What is the most British last name?

When we hear the word “British,” many of us often associate it with tea, crumpets, and the Queen. However, one of the most significant representations of British heritage lies within our names and surnames. Surnames or last names have been a staple of British society for centuries. They tell stories and give insight into where we come from. So, what is the most British last name?

Smith – The Most Common Surname

According to recent statistics, the most common surname in Scotland and the UK as a whole is Smith. It originates from the Middle English period when it meant someone who worked as a smith or a metalworker. Over time, it evolved to become a surname and was adopted by families who had a family member working in the profession.

The name Smith is found worldwide, but its frequency in the UK makes it undoubtedly the most common last name. It is estimated that over 4.5 million people in England alone have the last name Smith.

Brown – The Second Most Common Surname

The second most common last name in the UK is Brown. It originated from the Old English word “Bruin,” which means a person with brown hair or a dark complexion. The name became popular in the Middle Ages and was predominantly used by families who came from the North-East regions of England.

Today, the name Brown is commonly found throughout the UK, with over 2.5 million people sharing the surname.

Wilson – An Iconic Scottish Surname

The surname Wilson is another very common last name in the UK, with over 1.6 million people sharing the surname. It is regarded as an iconic Scottish surname and originated from the first name William.

Records show that the name Wilson was first used as a surname in the 14th century and became increasingly popular throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The name was most commonly adopted by families in Scotland and Northern England.

Today, the name Wilson is still popular and has become synonymous with Scottish identity.

Johnson – A Popular English Surname

The surname Johnson was first used in England during the 14th century and is one of the most common surnames in the UK. The name Johnson is derived from the first name John and originally meant “son of John.”

The name became increasingly popular during the Tudor era and was predominantly used by families in the Midlands of England. Today, over 1.5 million people in the UK have the last name Johnson.


In conclusion, surnames have been an integral part of British culture for centuries and have helped shape our identities and understanding of our heritage. While the most common last name in the UK is Smith, there are many other iconic British surnames, including Brown, Wilson, and Johnson. These surnames tell stories and give insight into our rich and diverse cultural heritage.