Saturday, May 12, 2012

Surname Saturday: Herrington

Over on, I've added surname information for my mother's surname, Rote, and my father's surname, Lloyd. There's no surname information for either of my parents' mothers' surnames, Herrington and  Craun. It doesn't surprise me at all to find a dearth of information about Craun, but I had expected to find something for Herrington. Researching the meaning, origins, or history of a surname can be serious scholastic work, but as I'm no expert in this field of research and I'll only be looking for enough information to provide a brief overview, which means I can base the information on web-based sources.

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. According to Behind the Name,  Oops! Surprisingly, there's no entry for either Herrington or Harrington in their database. Before I move on to other sites, I'll just head over to the Submit a Surname form.

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 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, and 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,, 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.