It makes more sense to inherit maternal surnames since you can’t always be sure who the father is, but you can always be sure who the mother is.

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This makes a lot of sense, but probably not the reason why we do it.


I think in the past (like a very long time ago, when only the rich got surnames), if the father agreed to give the kid his surname, it was a sign he accepted the child as his – so the kid was his, or he didn’t know it was not his, or he didn’t care. If the father refused to give the child his surname, the child was ‘not his responsability’ or so. The surname kind of confirmed that the child was one of the father. Nowadays this system is quite outdated, and in my country for example, parents can now decide which surname(s) they give to their child. (Of course this rule came in handy if the man had a few mistresses with whome he had a kid, he just didn’t give the child his surname and it wasn’t his responsability anymore.)


Consider the opposite: you’re already sure who the mother is. You gotta tell people who the father is.


This varies by culture, in Mexico you keep your mother’s maiden surname ie mom is “Martinez” and dad is “Jimenez” your name ends with “Jimenez Martinez”


Cherokee are matrilineal and matrilocal. A child is considered to be connected to his mother’s family and often the most important man in a child’s life is his mother’s brother (maternal uncle). Matrilocal means the married couple always lived with her tribe. He was a guest. And divorce happened when she put his things outside of the home. He would come home and find his wife, and therefore the rest of the tribe, disowned him.