Bye bye, Bythewood

The medieval surnames of England are disappearing. That means no more Bythewoods, Pauncefoots or Foothead, according to Debbie Kennett of the Guild of One-Name Studies, a group dedicated to investigating the origins and heritage of surnames.

Kennett's book, The Surnames Handbook, discusses the decline of colorful British names, some included in the Domesday Book, due to such factors as the Black Plague, introduction of new names, and hyphenated names. “There is a continual process by which some names thrive and some don’t. The inheritance of surnames is purely random," she said.