It began with my husband and myself. Two surnames, adding our parents expanded the count to four. We're growing!
That is the point of genealogy isn't it? Growing your tree branch by branch. How does 2 names to 4 names grow to a total of 854 surnames?
My parents had 9 children, 8 of whom are married adding eight surnames to the count. My dad had one sister who added yet another surname. Her 8 children added more surnames. My mother had 4 siblings who married adding 4 more surnames to the tally.
I am doing a collateral tree and the fact that many of our ancestors came from families of 10 or more children is a major factor in surname spread. In the research I have done, religion, nationality, and culture do not seem to have had a bearing on family size. Farmers or shopkeepers, country or city dwellers, religious or not, the propensity for large families seems to be the same.
My parents grandchildren number 21 and 17 are married and have contributed a total of 20 grandchildren at this point. I don't see a shrinking of the family tree anytime soon!