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Updated June 16, 2022

One of the easiest ways to learn more about our ancestors is to research our surnames or family names. Australia is a melting pot that is full of diverse people that come from so many different cultures. If you are from Australia or have ancestors that are, it is worth seeing if your last name is on this list to get a better idea of where you come from. Below we have some of the most common Australian surnames along with some others that are a little less popular.

The History of Australian Last Names

Aboriginal Australians aren’t the only people that make up the population of Australia. Around the 18th century, the United Kingdom used Australia as a penal colony for convicts. This is why many surnames are English, Irish, and Scottish. With Australia becoming more westernized, they lost more of their identity due to the British assigning the Aboriginals last names.
There are other cultures found in Australia as well. During the Gold Rush, people from China, Vietnam, and India immigrated there.

Naming Traditions in Australia

It is custom for Australians to take on their father’s last name. However, it is not required. If your parents are unmarried, they have the option between the mother's and father’s surname. Some even opt for a hyphenated version of both.

The Most Popular Last Names in Australia 

  1. Allan - This is a Scottish surname that is derived from “aluinn.” It means “fair” or “handsome.”
  2. Anderson - This is an Irish patronymic surname that means “son of Ander or Andrew.”
  3. Brown - This last name is used to describe someone with brown hair, complexion, or clothing. It is of English origin.
  4. Cooper - This is an English occupational surname that was used for a maker or fixer of wooden barrels or tubs.
  5. Edwards - This is an English patronymic last name that means “son of Edward.” It can also mean “prosperous guardian.”
  6. Evans - This last name of Welsh origin is patronymic for “son of Evan.”
  7. Harris - In both Welsh and English, this surname is patronymic for “son of Harry.”
  8. Johnson - This name Old English name was seen in Australia after the Norman Conquest. It is patronymic for “son of John.”
  9. Jones - This last name is of Celtic and Welsh origin. It also means “son of John.”
  10. Lee - This is a topographic surname that is derived from the English word “lea” which means “clearing” or “pasture.”
  11. Martin - This name is derived from the Latin name “Martinus” which is a variant of “Mars” the Roman God of war.
  12. Murphy - This is an Irish last name that means “sea warrior.”
  13. O’Brien - The meaning of this name is “son of Brian.” It is patronymic and of Irish and Gaelic origin.
  14. Roberts - This is an English and Welsh patronymic surname that means “son of Robert.”
  15. Smith - This is an Anglo-Saxon occupational surname for a smith. It is derived from the Old English word “smid” which means “to hit or strike.”
  16. Taylor - This is a Norman occupational name that is of English, Scottish, and French origin. It means “tailor.”
  17. Thompson/Thomson - Here are the two common ways to spell this last name. It is of Scottish origin and patronymic for “son of Thomas.”
  18. White - This surname is derived from a nickname for someone with white hair or a pale complexion. It is of English, Irish, and Scottish origin.
  19. Williams - This is a very common English name that is patronymic for “son of William.”
  20. Wilson - This last name is patronymic for “son of Will” and is of Scottish and English origin.

More Common Australian Last Names and Meanings

  1. Adams - This last name of English and Scottish origin means “son of the soil.”
  2. Bailey - This is an English and Irish surname that came from the Normans. It is an occupational name for a bailiff.
  3. Dixon - This English name is patronymic for “son of Dick” which is a pet form of “Richard.”
  4. Dwyer - This is an Irish surname that is derived from a Gaelic surname that means “black.”
  5. Ferguson - This Gaelic name is patronymic for “son of Fergus” and it also means “son of the angry one.”
  6. Fraser - This is a Scottish clan name derived from the word “fraisse” which means “strawberry.”
  7. Gilbert - This Norman French surname is derived from the Norman personal name “Giselbert” which means “noble youth.”
  8. Matthews - This English name is patronymic for “son of Matthew.”
  9. Pearce - This last name is of Greek origin and it means “stone.”
  10. Phillips - This is a Greek surname that is patronymic for “son of Phillip.”
  11. Reynolds - This Norman name is patronymic for “son of Reynold” or “son of Reginald.”
  12. Richards - This last name is of English and German origin. It is patronymic for “son of Richard.”
  13. Simpson - This Anglo-Saxon surname is patronymic for “son of Simon” or “son of Simme.”
  14. Stephens/Stevens - This English name is patronymic for “son of Stephen/Steven.”
  15. Tran - This Vietnamese surname means “old” or “ancient.”

Stefanie Miller

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Stefanie is an experienced parenting writer and has published works in other publications… Read more

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