Old Money Last Names

child saving money in a piggy bank

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have an old money surname that is associated with wealth, tradition and status. Here in the UK, and I’m sure around the world as well, who you know is often more important than what you know. So having anything which makes you stand out from the crowd can have a big impact in your life.

For us mere mortals, most of us didn’t choose our own first or last name and work with what we have got. However, we can change our first name if we like and in some countries you can also choose your last name as well. Some people may want to pick an old money last name for their child and others just like to learn about the families which have them. Either way, let’s look at what an old money name is and share some examples.

What is an old money last name?

An old money last name is one that has been around for a long time and is associated with wealthy families. These names have been passed down for generations along with great fortunes and assets, accumulated by land ownership and/or running successful businesses. Old money families have remained wealthy over the years. Hence, their children inherit these riches and carry on the family name, even today.

Many of them you may recognize, such as names like Roosevelt in the USA or Windsor in the UK. These names carry a certain gravitas and suggest a life of luxury, ease and access to the best schools, brands and travel opportunities. An old money name when you hear it conveys wealth and a lifestyle many of us aspire to. Most of us imagine that life is easier for the wealthy and in many ways it is.

What are the benefits of having one?

There are a few potential benefits to having an old money name:

  1. Connects to wealthy families

Old money names carry a connotation of success. There are assumptions about certain names and high rollers, as these people know the right people and do well in work and therefore do well financially. A child growing up with the right name may attract opportunities and do well.

  1. Opens up doors

Parents hope that their child, with an old money name, will be noticed and associated with this wealthy, well connected world. Therefore, they will more likely be selected for places in schools and even for jobs as they become adults. And as a result of a good education and the connections they make along the way, they hope their child will be set up well for life. Some names even stand out on a resume to employers and people might be hired for jobs based on them.

  1. Conveys a certain image

Old money names are often seen as trustworthy and carry an element of class. Parents choose names for a number of reasons, sometimes because they like it, sometimes to preserve family history and in this case, to convey a clear message. Their child, with an old money name, will be viewed as reliable and likely to succeed.

What are some old money surnames in the UK?

In the UK many old money surnames are rooted in the aristocracy and have been passed down for generations. Often these names are associated with places where families once owned lands. There are lots of names that will be familiar to you. Here are some examples:

  • Tottenham
  • Windsor
  • Hamilton
  • Ford
  • Goldman-Sachs
  • Chadwick
  • Bowles
  • Forbes
  • Carter
  • Berkshire
  • Carnegie
  • Churchill
  • Seymour
  • Grosvenor
  • Spencer

USA old money surnames

family on the beach

In the USA, most old money surnames are rooted in European names as a great number of wealthy people have migrated to the Americas. Therefore, there is a lot of crossover between European and American old money names. Some of the names we all recognize such as Vanderbilt or Rockefeller were actually viewed as “new money” not all that long ago. So here are some examples of old money names in the USA:

  • Roosevelt
  • Hartwick
  • Harrison
  • Randolph
  • Pitcairn
  • Astor
  • Du Pont
  • Cargill-Macmillan

And some new old money names:

  • Vanderbilt
  • Ford
  • Rockefeller
  • Coors
  • Busch
  • Haas
  • Morgan
  • Rothchild
  • Van Doren

Old money last names across Europe

There are lots of well known land owners and aristocracy throughout the centuries across Europe. Many of them will be familiar to you already, especially if you enjoy period dramas or high end fashion. Some of the wealthiest families over the years in Europe are:

  • Bardi (Italy)
  • Albrecht (Germany)
  • Armani (Italy)
  • Baldwin (Germany)
  • Balenciaga (Spain)
  • Bourbon (France)
  • Chopard (Switzerland)
  • Grimaldi (Monaco)
  • Medici (Italy)
  • Birla (Italy)

There are a good amount of names that have travelled to the USA and around the world from these European countries. As wealthy families moved from place to place they invested in new opportunities to grow their fortunes and ensure the next generation carried on their legacies. These families put down roots around the world and established themselves there. This is why you’ll often see the same old money names appear on lists from Europe and the USA. Have a look here for more ideas.

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Can you change your last name?

If you want permission to change your last name, or give your baby a different surname, it really depends where you live. In New Zealand and the UK, parents can give children any first or last name they wish. In the US it’s a little more complicated as there are different state laws to contend with. Alabama allows you to pick any surname, whereas states like Georgia and Louisiana are stricter. In Japan and France, a couple must choose the husband or wife’s surname for their child.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39417074

As a British citizen living in the UK, maybe I should change my kids’ surnames to Windsor. It might open a few more doors for them 🙂


When you choose a last name for your child look at all the options and think carefully about what you both like and want. The advantage of an old money last name for your child is that it may help them stand out and achieve success. This could make their life easier.

The downside is that they will not share your family name and things can get confusing on a day to day basis. As a parent there should be a sense of pride that your children have your surname as it means your legacy and family name will continue into the future. That being said, many children have different last names to their parents and get along just fine. Another option is to choose an old money first name for your baby, or go the full length and go for both! Remember to weigh up the options and do your research to select the best choice for you and your child.