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Jun 26, 2019

If you have French ancestry, you are in good company. Hundreds of millions of people around the world can claim descent from this ancient nation. Like most countries in Europe, the French people did not start using surnames until the Middle Ages. Before that, the villages were small, and most everyone in one knew everyone else. There was not much mobility, either. People tended to live in the same village for their entire lives, and it was that way for generations.

Surnames only began to be used when some villages grew into cities, and people started moving from the village of their ancestors in search of more farmland, more fertile soil, or new job opportunities. Then, they needed something other than a first name that they may have shared with several other local people to distinguish themselves. Thus, surnames were born. Here are the four most common categories of French surnames, and what they mean. This information can help you a lot in your genealogical quest for your French ancestors...

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