I found this on a page attributed to the commercial web site ancestry.com:
"In medieval England, before the time of professional theater, craft guilds put on “mystery plays” (“mystery” meaning “miracle”), which told Bible stories and had a call-and-response style of singing. A participant’s surname — such as King, Lord, Virgin, or Death — may have reflected his or her role, which some people played for life and passed down to their eldest son."
I've never heard any of these claims before. Quite apart from the fact that "mystery" does not mean "miracle," is there any evidence at all for (a) call-and-response singing, (b) surnames derived from character names, (c) roles held by an individual for a lifetime, or (d) eldest sons inheriting dramatic roles?
Catholic University of America
Washington, DC 2006