What’s in a surname? You may ask. A new website project has been released, that helps you locate your past. Have you ever wondered why your ancestors gathered where they did, or where others with your surname live now. A research project investigating the distribution of surnames in Britain answers these questions. And another study has found the surnames are still extremely regional.
Smith, for example, remains the most common surname in Britain, used by more than half a million people. It has exactly the same concentration it always did in Lerwick, in the Scottish Shetland Islands. Jones is the No. 2 surname, and is the most common among hill farmers in north Wales.
The data used for this project comes partly from electoral register. A number of other files are held by Ex-pairing, which is probably Britain's largest collector of data about individuals.
There're some of us who are fairly predictable. Campbell, for example, as you might expect, is somewhat concentrated in the northern parts of Scotland, and it appears really bizarre to be found somewhere else.
Well, with 25, 000 names as difficult to generalize, what you can do is put them in general categories, if, for example, you look at names which are people's work. Like the name, Webber, you might find it is much more common in the Midlands than in the south of England. If you go to Wales, most people get their names from their ancestors and in Yorkshire for example, a lot of people have names based on the places that they originally lived in or at least their ancestors did.
Well, we only have 25, 000 names on this website, but there're another 50, 000 names now found in Britain and they're particularly interesting, for they are non-British names. Most British names are fairly common and about what we can now do as such is look for the frequency of all names from different parts of the world and different faiths, religions and languages. And what there is in names is actually extremely useful for researchers in anthropology and sociology may find a lot about different immigrant groups and their descendants now living in this country.