Whenever I'm searching for information on a name or surname, my first stop is always Behind the Name; for surnames, that means I head for their surname subdomain, Behind the Name: the Etymology and History of Surnames. Today, I'm looking for information about my father's mother's surname, Herrington, mostly because I know it will be more difficult to find information about the Craun surname.
This looks pretty simple; let me just enter the name. Okay, that's done, so I'll click the Continue button.
I should have realized this was too easy! Behind the Name wants me to share information about the surname with them. I'll just leave this window open while I continue my research.
It's time to turn to a search engine. I enter the following search terms: "herrington surname meaning origin history." Note that most search engines, including Google (which is the search engine I normally use), ignore capitalization, so there's no need to bother with it for searches.
The first thing I notice is that Google gives me the results for "harrington surname meaning origin history." While not an absolute, this suggests that Harrington may be a more common variant of the name. Since there's only a slight spelling difference, I'm tempted to just accept the search results, but it only takes a second to switch back to my intended search and I'm sure the results will be at least a bit more closely related to my family's branch.
The first link in the search takes me to Herrington Surname History on HouseofNames.com. Here, I learn that the Herrington name most likely originated in the Scottish/English borderlands, and was used to refer to people from the town of Harrington. There's more, but House of Names is a commercial site and, while in my experience the information offered by these sites is usually fairly close to the mark, I'd still like to find more from a more authoritative, less commerical, site, so I'll take note of the information and continue my search.
At this point, I realize that I've missed the most obvious places to get surname information, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. I'm also realizing that what was supposed to be a quick post has turned into a lengthy one. I'm going to do the smart thing (in terms of actually sticking to my to-do list), and make a quick getaway.
Well, sort of. Before I head off, I just want to mention two sites I noticed in my search listings. The first is from the Harrington results: The Internet Surname Database, which has an entry for Harrington. The Surname Database is, according to its About Us page, a "family run web site, that has built up a database of surname origins over the last 20 years." So, it's still a commercial site, but the more personal tone and the portrait given of how the business was built from a one-man researcher's work, make me feel more positive about the information provided.
The other site is a new discovery for me, AncientFaces.com, which is an online community combining genealogy and vintage photos; their appeal to potential members states, "AncientFaces is a free family history community for sharing vintage photos and family history. Here you can perform a free genealogy search and discover your past." Their Herrington Family History and Genealogy page provides three photographs uploaded by members, in addition to a little bit of information about the surname and its origins. I don't have the time, right now, to explore further, but this could be a fun site for genealogists, whether you've got loads of family photos to share, or are hoping to find a picture of your great-aunt Nelly's husband's mother's brother.