Keeping Up With the Joneses

The trouble with the Welsh is that they don’t have enough surnames to go round. You could almost count on the fingers of one hand the number of common Welsh surnames: Jones, Evans, Williams, Davies, Thomas and Owen must account for the majority of the phone book in many places [1]. Not surprising, then, that there are sometimes problems telling them apart. Hence, the high incidence of two-element surnames (Peter Wyn Thomas, and so on), and the well-known habit of appending a nickname or occupational label: “Evans the Death” for an undertaker and “Organ Morgan” in Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, not to mention “Jones the Chopsticks” for the proprietor of the Chinese restaurant – in my family at least! And as everyone knows, the most common name of them all is Jones.

From the Guardian, 26 February 2000:

story about a rugby team with 10 players called Jones
© 2000 The Guardian

[1] . . .although ironically, many of the most typically Welsh names are actually not of Welsh origin, but come from English first names, and Jones (from ‘John’) is one such. See

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© 1999–2001 Harry Campbell
Page added: April 2000