The original inhabitants of Australia, known as the Aboriginal Australians, did not have surnames and were known only by their first names. Thus, most Australian last names have originated from various parts of the world, especially the UK, as it was the home to many Australian colonists. Also, the land down under country, Australia, is filled with a diversified population and houses more than 25 million people. Thus, their names reflect an influence from other cultures. Our post brings you a list of the hundred most popular last names from Australia for your perusal.
100 Common Australian Last Names Or Surnames
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Adams is a common English surname with origins in England and Scotland. The word means “son of Adam.’” The name is derived from the Hebrew noun “adamah,” meaning “earth” or “the ground,” from which God created the first human ‘Adam.’
Originally from Ireland and commonly found in Scotland, Allen is a Celtic surname that made its way around the world to Australia. In Scottish, Gaelic, and Irish, the word means both “little rock” and “harmony.” In Celtic, Allen also means handsome. Allen is spelled in a variety of ways all over the world as Alan or Allan.
The patronymic surname finds its roots in England, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Anderson refers to the “son of Andrew.” Andrew also referred to a man or someone manly and was also the name of Jesus’ first disciple. The name was revered in medieval times because of its church connections.
Bailey is a traditional surname with roots found in Old English. The term “bailiff” means “agent of the law” or “debt collector.” Bailey was also the name of the beluga whale in the 2016 Disney/Pixar animated film Finding Dory.
The common English name finds its origins in Celtic countries. It is believed the name is specific to the Baxter sept of the Clan MacMillan in Scotland. Baker is the anglicized version of the Anglo-Saxon surname.
The last name probably began as a related name for a bell ringer or bell producer. It is also likely from a geographical name for somebody who lived by a genuine chime, a house sign, or hotel sign. In different cases, the last name Bell is derived from the archaic name Bel.
The originally English surname, Bennett, is derived from the medieval first name Benedict, originating from the Latin word Benedictus, meaning ‘blessed.’ St. Benedict popularized this name during the middle ages. This surname is also popular in the United States.
Blackman is an Old English name meaning “a man of dark color.” It was originally spelled as Blæcmann. Danish Vikings were once given this name when they settled in southern Scotland.
Traces of the origins of the surname Brown can be found from Middle English to Old English. It also goes back to the French word Brun, which means brown. The name traditionally refers to someone who is “brown-skinned” or “brown-haired.” A famous personality by this name was John Brown (1800–1859), a 19th-century, North American Black activist.
Butler is an occupational last name of English and Irish origin, from a word that originally meant a wine steward, usually the chief servant in a medieval household. In larger or royal households of powerful nobility, the title of “butler” denoted an officer of high rank and responsibility. Variations of this name include Boutler, Buttlar, and Buteler.
The Australian last name can be traced back to Scottish and Gaelic origins. One of the many sources of its meaning can be from certain places in the UK called Cameron, mainly in Edinburgh, Fife, Scotland, or Lennox. David Cameron served as the Prime Minister of the UK from 2010 to 2016.
Campbell is a well-known Scottish and Irish family name signifying “abnormal or wry mouth,” regularly used to portray a man whose mouth slanted somewhat on one side. The name is derived from the Scottish-Gaelic word “Caimbeul,” which comes from the Gaelic word meaning “warped or contorted” mouth.
Carter is common today in the United States and England. It is an occupational name for anyone involved in transporting goods by cart or wagon. Helena Bonham Carter is an award-winning Hollywood actress, best known for her roles in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The King’s Speech, and The Hunger Games.
The last name Chapman can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is an occupational surname usually given to a merchant. The Oxford English dictionary also supplies four different meanings for the word Chapman.
It is derived from an official title the clerk or the clergyman, a clerk in holy orders. A variant of this surname is Clark. It is also sometimes chosen as a first name in several parts of the Western world.
Collings is an Old English surname with two possible origins. One is from the Norse name, which in ancient English became ‘Cola,’ meaning dark or swarthy. The second interpretation of its origin is that it comes from the diminutive name ‘Coll,’ from the name Nicholas, which means “victory of the people.” It has a few variations, such as Collin, Collins, and Collen.
The last name Cook can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon era of Britain. It is a name for a seller of cooked meats, a keeper of an eating-house or someone who worked as a cook. Thomas Cook was an English businessman, best known for founding the travel agency Thomas Cook and Son.
Derived from Middle English Couper or Cowper, this last name is an occupational surname for maker and repairer of wooden vessels such as barrels, vats, buckets, casks, and tubs. Bradley Cooper is an award-winning Hollywood actor of today’s time.
It is a surname of English and Welsh origin. Cox is the 69th most common surname in the United Kingdom. ‘Friends’ actress Courtney Cox is a famous bearer of this name.
Davies is the last name of Welsh origin and is a patronymic surname meaning “son of David.” It is a popular Hebrew name, which means ‘beloved.’
Edwards as a last name rose to popularity in England and Wales. It is a patronymic name meaning ‘son of Edward.’ It is a common name in the United States of America. Jonathan Edwards was a Protestant Theologian and Philosopher.
The name is derived from the borders of Scotland. George Eliot was an English novelist of the 19th century, whose real name was Mary, but she wrote under a male pen name to be accepted by society as a novelist.
Elis, a vernacular type of Elijah (see Elias) is of English and Welsh origin. In Wales, this family name ingested structures from the Welsh name Elisedd, a subordinate of Elus ‘generous’ or ‘kind.’
Evans is a Welsh surname meaning ‘son of Evan.’ Chris Evans is a popular Hollywood actor best known for his role as Captain America.
Fisher is a surname of English origin and is a name for an individual who made a living off of catching and selling fish. It can also be a personal name meaning ‘salmon.’ Carrie Fisher was a well-known actress who played the role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars films.
Gibson is a surname of English origin. The name is derived from a patronymic form of the common medieval name Gib, a short form of Gilbert. Variant forms of this last name are Gibbs, Gipson, and Gibsoun. Thomas Gibson is an American actor well-known for his role as Aaron Hotchner in the popular TV series Criminal Minds.
Most of the original bearers of the surname Graham came from Grantham in Lincolnshire, England. Graham is the 20th most common last name in Scotland.
The name comes from the Scottish-English border region. It comes from the Gaelic word ‘riabhach,’ meaning gray. As a habitational name, it is derived from the place named Graye in Calvados.
It comes from when a family lived in the town Greene, the middle or principal square of every district. It comes from the Old English “grene,” signifying “green.”
The first bearers of this last name migrated to England during the Norman conquest of 1066. It is derived from the Old French term “halle,” which referred to a large manor house, indicating that the original bearer of the name worked at the manor of the local Lord.
The name is of Scottish and northern Irish origin and is a habitational name from what is now a deserted village in the parish of Barkby, Leicestershire. It is from Old English hamel ‘crooked’ and ‘dun hill.’ Alexander Hamilton, an American statesman, was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.
The last name Harris is also a patronymic surname and is of British origin. However, throughout the years, it has spread to various parts of the world and is found in different variations.
Harrison is another patronymic name, meaning ‘son of Harry.’ The first name Harry is a derivation of the common first name Henry, which itself comes from the Germanic name Heimirich, meaning ‘home ruler,’ from the elements heim or “home” and ric, meaning ‘power, ruler.’
The last name of Scottish and Irish origin is derived from the terms ‘haer’ meaning battle or carnage, and ‘viu’ meaning worthy. It was generally used to refer to a warrior or soldier who was ‘worthy of battle.’ American television presenter Steve Harvey is a popular bearer of this name.
The common surname originating from England is an occupational surname used to describe someone who lived on a hill. A variant form of this last name is Hyll.
Hughes is an Anglicized version of the Irish and Welsh patronymic surname. The surname may also be derived from the ancient French variant ‘Hugh,’ which in Old French means ‘Hue,’ a synonym of the German name ‘Hugo.’
Irwin is a surname of Irish, Scottish, and English descent, stemming from the longer surname Eoforwine, a combination of the old English words meaning boar and friend. Steve Irwin was an Australian zookeeper and wildlife expert, commonly known as ‘The Crocodile Hunter.’
Among the 25 most popular surnames in England and Wales, Jackson is a common surname of English origin. It means ‘son of Jack.’ Michael Jackson, nicknamed the ‘King of Pop,’ was the most famous bearer of this last name.
While this surname is found mainly around the North of England, it is of Lowland Scottish descent. It is derived from the name of an ancestor, meaning the ‘son of James.’
The name Johnson is an English patronymic surname that means ‘son of John.’ John means a ‘gift of God.’ It is derived from the Latin name Johannes, which finds its roots in the Hebrew word Yohanan, meaning ‘Jehovah has favored.’ Johnson may also be an Anglicized version of the Gaelic surname MacSeain or MacShane.
Jones is the second most common Australian surname. It is another surname passed down paternally. We find the origins of the name in England and Wales. A popular name among Christians, it means ‘Jehovah has favored.’
Kelly is an Anglicisation of the Irish surname O Ceallaigh, meaning ‘descendant of Ceallach.’ It originates in England and Scotland.
The last name is of Irish and Scottish origin and can sometimes also be used as a first name. This name has several different etymologies. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, often referred to as JFK, was the 35th President of the USA.
The surname of English origin comes from the Old English word cyning, meaning ‘tribal leader.’ The nickname was sometimes given to a man who carried himself like royalty and to someone who served in the royal household. It is the 36th most common surname in England.
It is a status name derived from the Middle English word knyghte, or Old English ‘cniht,’ meaning boy, youth, or serving lad. Before the Norman conquest of 1066, this last name was used as a first name as well. In some variations, it is possible that this last name was an occupational surname for a domestic servant.
Of Indian origin, meaning a young Prince, Kumar surprisingly is also commonly found among Australians.
Although a popular Chinese name, Lee has several possible origins and meanings. In Middle English, the surname Lea refers to a person who lives in or near a laye, or a ‘clearing in the woods.’
The Lewis surname is generally derived from the Germanic given name Lewis, meaning ‘renowned, famous battle.’ The last name is of Irish, Scottish and Welsh origin.
The last name Marshall can be considered an occupational surname, derived from the word mare, meaning horse. Therefore, it could have been given to a caretaker of a horse or a horse doctor.
Another patronymic surname, Martin, finds its roots in the ancient Latin from the name Martinus. It is derived from Mars, who is the Roman god of war and fertility. Martin is popular all around the world, including Australia, England, Scotland, France, Ireland, and Germany.
Mason is an Italian, French or English surname that refers to someone who did stonemasonry work, or it derives from the given name ‘Maso.’ The last name was first discovered in Piedmont, France.
This last name is a patronymic surname meaning ‘son of Matthew’. It is derived from the first name Matthew, which means ‘gift of Yahweh’ or ‘gift of God’, from the Hebrew given name Matityahu.
McDonald, another patronymic surname of Scottish origin, means ‘son of Donald’, a first name meaning ‘world ruler,’ from the Gaelic Mac Dhamhnuill. This last name is very famous among the Scottish clans.
Miller, sometimes also written as Millar, is a last name of English, Scottish and Irish origin. This can either be an occupational surname, or in some cases, a topographical last name.
Mills is an English and Scottish occupational surname. The name was borne by mill workers or owners of one or more mills.
The common last name is derived from the Middle English and old French name Michell. In Hebrew, it means ‘Who is like God.’
Moore is the 34th most common surname in Australia and also the 16th most common last name in the United States. It has several variations such as ‘Moor’ or ‘More.’ Traces of this name can be found much before the development of written language. Origins of the name have been found in Scottish Gaelic, Manx Gaelic, and Irish history.
The last name Morgan was first discovered in Northern Wales. It is derived from the Welsh first name of high antiquity. The founder of the Pelagian heresy, in the 4th century was a true Welshman and a monk of Bangor.
The last name Morris is speculated to have originated in England or Scotland, originally being ‘Maurice,’ an old French first name derived from the Latin word ‘Mauritius,’ meaning ‘moorish’ or ‘dark/
The surname Murphy is the most common surname in Ireland. It is a modern form of the ancient Irish name O’Murchadha, which means descendant of the sea. Cillian Murphy is an Irish actor known for his lead role in the Netflix show Peaky Blinders.
The last name of Gaelic and Scottish origin is derived from a region in Scotland called Moray. It is probably defined by Old Celtic elements meaning ‘sea and settlement.’
The Vietnamese name has travelled around the world, originating in China and reaching through Australia and further. Nguyen is the seventh most popular surname in Australia. It means ‘a musical instrument that is plucked.’ It has some alternate spellings including Nyguyen, Yuen, Ruan, and Yuan.
A last name of Irish descent, O’Brien means a descendant of the Irish High King Brian (Boru). Since it is derived from the personal name Brian, it could also be based on the element bre- ‘hill,’ with the transferred sense eminence or exalted one.
Parker, despite being of Old English origin, comes from a French word meaning ‘keeper of the park.’ The name also means guardian or custodian, usually of a park. Camilla Parker Bowles is a member of the reigning British Royal Family and the current Duchess of Cornwall.
The last name Pearce, originally started out as a first name, is of English, Irish, and Welsh origin. In Greek, this last name means ‘stone.’
It is another patronymic surname meaning ‘son of Phillip.’ The first name Phillip comes from the Greek word Phillipos meaning ‘friend of the horses.’
The last name Price is of Welsh origin and is a patronymic surname derived from the Welsh word Rhys meaning ‘son of Rhys.’ The first name Rhys in Welsh means ‘enthusiasm.’ It is in the top 50 most popular names in England.
Reid is a last name of Scottish origin, derived from a nickname given to someone with a ruddy face or the sanguine red complexion of the hair.
Richards is a common English surname brought to the country during the Norman conquest of 1066. Keith Richards is a famous English musician and songwriter who rose to fame during the 1960s and 70s.
Richardson is also a patronymic surname deriving from the first name Richard. Variations of this last name can also be found in Sweden.
The last name is of German and Welsh origin and a patronymic surname which translates to ‘son of Robert,’ from the Welsh first name Robert, meaning ‘bright fame.’ It is derived from the Germanic elements ‘hrod,’ meaning fame and ‘beraht,’ meaning bright.
A patronymic last name meaning ‘son of Robert,’ is a common name in Australia.
Robinson means ‘son of Robin.’ The name may have been derived from the Polish word ‘rabin’ which means rabbi. The name of Jewish and English origin has found its way to Australia as well.
The last name Rogers is a patronymic surname derived from the given name Roger. It is derived from the Germanic elements hrod, which means fame and ger, meaning spear. Therefore, this last name could mean ‘famous spear.’
The last name has Gaelic origins and has several different interpretations, usually referring to someone who lives near the valleys, the moors, or on a headland. Late American painter and television host Bob Ross was loved by all for his calm natured videos and serene paintings.
Russell is originally a British surname but it finds its roots in several districts of Australia. Thus, there is no territorial claim of the surname but it is found in English-speaking nations. It is the 68th most common name in Australia, according to data from Forebears.
The surname Ryan is of Irish Gaelic origin and could possibly have different meanings. Popularly it is believed to mean ‘little king,’ derived from the old Gaelic word righ, which means king. In old Irish, the word rían, means ‘water’ or ‘ocean.’ In Australia, the name gained maximum popularity in 2020.
Scott is a topographical name signifying someone who is a native of Scotland. It also refers to a person who spoke Gaelic and is acquired from Old English scotti. This name was originally given by the Romans to raiders from Gaelic Ireland. One in 500 people have their last names as Scott in Australia.
The English last name was a topographic name for someone who lived by a copse or thicket, or a habitational name from any of the minor places named with this word. George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, who is one of the greatest of all times.
It is derived from the name of its ancestors and means ‘son of Simon.’ One in 800 people in Australia bear this last name.
Smith is an English occupational surname and refers to a man who works with metal, like a blacksmith. The craft was practiced in every country, thus making Smith and its derivatives, one of the most common surnames all around the world.
The name Stevens came from the ancient personal name Stephen, meaning crown, wreath, or garland. It was brought to England by the Normans when they conquered in 1066.
One in approximately 500 people in Australia bear the last name Stewart. Kristen Stewart is a popular American film actress.
Taylor is another occupational name with roots in the English language. The word is derived from tailor, from Old French tailleur and the Latin taliare. It means ‘to cut.’ The name also has a biblical translation meaning ‘clothed with salvation.’ It also means eternal beauty. Taylor is one of the most common surnames found in English-speaking countries, Australia being one of them.
The origin of the name Thomas is found in the history of the English and Welsh languages. It is a patronymic surname that gained popularity from the medieval first name Thomass. A diminutive of Thompson, the name comes from the Aramaic term for ‘twin.’
Thompson refers to the son of Thom, Thompkin, Thomp and other diminutives of Thomas. It is a patronymic surname of Scottish or English lineage. A famous personality by this name was Fred Thompson, the U.S. Senator and television actor.
It is a patronymic surname of Scottish origin, meaning son of Thom, Thomp, or Thompkin. It is derived from the Aramaic word Tom meaning ‘twin.’
Tran is of Vietnamese and Chinese origin. It translates to ‘old,’ or ‘ancient.’ It is the 147th most common last name in Australia.
It is an occupational last name derived from the Latin word Tornarius, meaning ‘lathe,’ that is a tool that works on rotation. Turner is most commonly a name for one who worked with a lathe to make items of wood, bone, or metal. American born singer Tina Turner is a famous bearer of this last name.
Walker is an English and Scottish occupational surname. The word is derived from the Middle English walkcere, meaning ‘a fuller of cloth.’ It refers to someone who walked on raw damp cloth to thicken it. Another derivative could be the Old English word wealcan, meaning ‘to walk or tread.’ In 2007, it was the 14th most common surname in Australia.
Walsh is among the five most common surnames found in Ireland. It usually means ‘foreigner,’ or more specifically, a Briton. It is a common surname found around Australia.
This last name was first found in Northampton and was brought to England during the Norman conquest of 1066. One in 700 people in Australia bear the last name Ward.
The last name Watson, popular in Australia, is also commonly found in England, Scotland, and the United States. It is the 40th most famous surname in Australia. A patronymic surname meaning ‘son of Watt,’ is a pet form of the name Walter, which means ‘powerful ruler of the army.’
This last name, originally from England, was usually given to a weaver, derived from the Old English word webbe, meaning woven cloth. It refers to someone employed in the weaving of fabric and is the 85th most common last name in Australia.
The roots of the surname White are in Ireland, England, and Scotland and it has many connotations. For example, White is a descriptive name for a person with a light complexion or hair. White may also have a regional derivation from the Isle of Wight in Hampshire, England and it has also found traces in the Anglo-Saxon word wiht, meaning ‘valiant.’
Williams is a patronymic surname that means ‘son of William.’ It is a combination of Old French and Germanic elements and has many deviations. Wil, means “desire” and helm, means “helmet or protection.” Williams is a highly popular surname in Australia, England, and Europe.
Wilson is an English or Scottish surname which means ‘son of Will.’ It is a patronymic surname which became popular during medieval times. ‘Will’ may have derived from the Germanic element ‘wil,’ meaning ‘desire.’ Wilson is known to be the fifth most common surname in Australia.
Wood was originally used to describe someone who worked with wood or lived in a forest. It is the 26th most popular surname in England and the 42nd most common last name in Australia.
It is an occupational surname. Wright has been derived from ‘the wright,’ referring to a skilled workman of various materials, mainly wood and carpentry. This surname is common to the Lowlands and the north of England.
The surname Young is a derivative of the Middle English word yunge or yonge meaning ‘young.’ It is a descriptive name to distinguish someone younger from older. Young is also said to be an Anglicized version of similar surnames, such as Dutch Jong, German Jung, and French Lejueune.
Australia is a beautiful and versatile country, and so are the names and surnames of its people. The most well-known and interesting Australian last names, such as Johnson, Smith, Richards, Williams, etc., have been used for a long time. The country has surplus surnames according to the region and its diverse tribes. However, some Australian surnames also emanate from other countries, such as India, England, Germany, etc. We bring you a list of 100 Australian surnames along with their place of origin and significance.
Infographic: Australian Surnames With Occupational Origins
One of the most common methods for a family to derive a surname is through their occupation. Australians also employ occupational surnames, and several well-known ones have been descended that way. Let’s look at the infographic below to learn some of the most popular Australian last names.
- Surname List.