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Tony Grist

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Family Names [Aug. 31st, 2006|03:20 pm]
Tony Grist

Here's a site (belonging to University College London) that documents the geographical spread of family names in the U.K. The Guardian drew my attention to it. Not surprisingly it's getting a lot of hits at the moment.  

If you have an English/British family name, this site will pinpoint where in the UK people with that name  were concentrated in the sample years of 1882 and 1998 and so- by deduction- where the name originates.

My family name turns out to be West Country. More specifically from the area round Bath. 

Ailz's family name- no surprises here- is deep Lancashire.

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: forestdweller
2006-08-31 03:50 pm (UTC)
Wow, my surnames (Mother's maiden and my Father's) both hail from Kilmarnock, in Scotland.

...


So all of the banter about being distantly related to William Wallace and Mary queen of Scots might have a basis in fact.

O_o

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-08-31 04:04 pm (UTC)
So did your parents know they were both from the same part of the world or is it an amazing coincidence?
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[User Picture]From: forestdweller
2006-08-31 04:08 pm (UTC)
Amazing coincidence, methinks. The fact that both of their families emigrated to the states somewhat recently and they were living one town apart in Maine which has a traditionally high concentration of Scottish and Irish immigrants kind of narrows the coincidence factor a touch, though.

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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2006-08-31 04:21 pm (UTC)
Once I can get on there it will be interesting to see what it says about my maiden name. Of course I know my family geneology back to 1400s and my ancester that emigrated to the New World left Barnstaple, Devon in the mid-1600s, but I'd like to see what the site says. Snow was my maiden name.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2006-08-31 05:16 pm (UTC)
Okay, I got to it, seems like in both 1881 and 1998, the heaviest concentration of Snows was still in Devon and a small bit of Essex along the Thames. Fascinating.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-08-31 06:28 pm (UTC)
I've looked at quite a few names now. It's interesting the way names "behave". For example, in 1881 there weren't any Andersons to speak of outside Scotland, but since then they've sort of slid down the East coast. I'd have expected people to scatter in all directions, but in fact there seems to be a much more organic pattern of movement.

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[User Picture]From: baritonejeff
2006-08-31 07:07 pm (UTC)
This is why I love LJ. I looked up my mother's maiden name, Williams, which is also my middle name. Celtic/Welsh. Upland Hill farmers, concentrated principally in LLandudno, Wales in 1882 and still 1998, with the principal American concentration now in Mississippi. Fascinating!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-08-31 07:16 pm (UTC)
You'd think the 20th century would have scattered people higgledy-piggledy all over the map, but it's not like that at all. People cling to home- and when they do move they move in tribal groupings.
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[User Picture]From: baritonejeff
2006-08-31 07:22 pm (UTC)
We witnessed that a great deal in Los Angeles which, I suspect a great deal like London, is very ethnically diverse. All the Armenians, the Thais, the Koreans, etc., tended to be lumped together in specific areas. It makes perfect sense when you see it happening contemporaneously, because there must be a greater sense of security when one can immigrate into an environment that has some degree of familiarity and ethnic validation. But do people today immigrate and relocate for the same reasons they might have a hundred years ago?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-01 09:58 am (UTC)
I reckon the main reason people move around is to find a "better life". This explains both the 19th century flow into the cities and the late 20th century flight into the suburbs and countryside.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2006-08-31 08:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link. This is fascinating! I just managed to look up my maiden name of Gough and discovered that originally it was more Welsh than I thought. (I now the family name originated in Shropshire, right on the Welsh border.)

The Goughs have spread a bit now, but are still concentrated in N Wales and the Welsh border and Manchester and the Midlands.

I'll try my other family names over the weekend.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-01 10:02 am (UTC)
I've tried a lot of different names and had a lot of surprises.

My sister's married name is Fairweather. That sounds like a English heartland name if ever there was one, right? Wrong. The Fairweathers are smeared out along the East coast- which suggests to me that they're fairly recent immigrants from the continent.
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