In the past few years, DNA testing has begun to contribute to our understanding. It is currently emerging more clearly which surnames are multi-origin, originating with many different forefathers, and which descend from a single male ancestor. As a case study, I shall describe the application of modern, multidisciplinary methods to the surname Plant, which has been ascribed a different meaning each time an authority has written about it. The recent emergence of a different view about this name's origins has prompted a reassessment of its meaning
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