A surname is an hereditary name common to all members of a family, as distinct from a forename or given name. Also known as a family name or last name. A surname is patronymic, that is, a person's surname is the surname of their father.

There are a couple of exceptions to this general rule. If a child is illegitimate and the name of the father is not known then the child's surname is that of the mother.

The other exception is were a person changes their surname by choice either legally or by usage.

It is the normal convention, though not a legal requirement, that a woman on marriage adopts the surname of her spouse. Her birth surname becoming known as her maiden name.

The database currently holds just over 3,800 unique surnames that have appeared in the parish and census records for Prescot.