View Full Version : What's in a surname? Distribution maps, modern and 1881

Monday, January 23rd, 2006, 02:46 PM
Everyone's got a surname, but now a website which maps names against areas of the country where they are most common helps shed light on where our families come from.

Until now it's been hard to know what a surname says about someone. But a website has been launched that maps more than 25,000 surnames across Britain, highlighting areas of concentration.

Anyone can tap in their name and with the click of a mouse glimpse a profile of how others who share their name are distributed around the country.

So, for example, while it's no secret that there's a small cluster of Blairs residing at a prestigious address in central London, the surname is most concentrated on the west coast of Scotland, particularly Argyllshire and Ayrshire.

The site is the result of a year-long study aimed at understanding patterns of regional economic development, population movement and cultural identity, says Professor Paul Longley, who led the project.

It maps the distribution of surnames from the 1998 electoral register and does the same against the 1881 census, making it possible to see how surnames moved around the country during the last century.

And despite the talk about Britain's increasingly mobile population, the map reveals many surnames still have strong regional ties.

Roberts, for example, remains very definitely clustered in north-west Wales, as it was in 1881, although the 1998 map shows it has spread further into England.

"It shows, to a large extent, that social mobility is a myth. For most people, migration is traumatic," says Prof Longley, who worked on the project with Richard Webber, the former head of data analysts Experian.

Between the 13th Century, when surnames originated in Britain, and the end of the 19th Century "not a lot happened" says Prof Longley. People tended to stay rooted in the part of the country where they were born.

One apparent anomaly thrown up by the 1881 census, says Prof Longley, is the spike in Cornish names centred around Middlesbrough, in north-east England.

Scattering classes

"It seems utterly inexplicable at first, but when the Cornish tin industry collapsed in the 1850s a large number of workers' families migrated en masse to mining communities in the North East."

"A very good indicator of the economic health and dynamism of an area is a good mix of family names. It's an indicator of a can-do attitude because these days it's migrants who are making the running."

Prof Longley hopes the surname site, which has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, will tap into the current trend for examining family histories.

"The BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? programme has touched a nerve with many people, and set them thinking about their family histories. Those are just one-offs - one of the purposes of this website is for amateur genealogists."

Link : http://www.spatial-literacy.org

Monday, January 23rd, 2006, 02:55 PM
The site can be kind of slow but if it doesn't work when you press the button just hit 'back' and press it again. That works perfectly for me, using Opera browser. if it doesn't happen after 3 or so tries, usually pausing for 10 or so seconds then going back and hitting it again works.

Anyway, here is the distribution of my name in 1881:


Range is from white (least frequent) through yellow, orange, red, and purple (most frequent)

and in 1998:


Steadily creeping outwards to take over first the country, and then the world :devil

Sigurd Volsung
Monday, January 23rd, 2006, 03:48 PM
I have been looking for this site for ages! Thank you, Startide!

Here are my results:





Monday, January 23rd, 2006, 09:37 PM
Dads family name 1881

[/URL]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/Averiss1881.png (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/Averiss1881.png)

Dads family name 1998

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/Averiss1998.png (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/Averiss1998.png)

Mums family name 1881

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/willetts1881.png (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/willetts1881.png)

Mums family name 1998

[URL="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/willetts1998.png"]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/willetts1998.png (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v400/jimmywilletts/willetts1998.png)

Not a very well travelled lot for the most part :D. Thanks for the link BTW, very interesting to see as most of the places highlighted on the map are where my known relatives live.

Monday, January 23rd, 2006, 10:21 PM
Father's side in 1881

Father's side in 1998

Mother's side in 1881

Mother's side in 1998

Monday, January 23rd, 2006, 11:05 PM
My mother's maiden name in 1881:


...and in 1998:



Monday, January 23rd, 2006, 11:47 PM
What a coincidence! I've been playing around on this one all evening. It's obviously been doing the rounds on the internet grapevine, and so is a bit slow, so be patient and willing to try again if it dun't work.
I looked at the unusual surname of a friend of mine, a bit of a Yokel, so he is as well, so it's not as if he's got a weird aristocratic name or owt, and it was only seen in one County in 1881, which was coloured bright purple, and everything else was empty and white!

Mine reflects the fact that its Irish carriers first got off the boat in Cumberland in 1798;

Here's Mum's, a proper Border Reiver's name;
By the way, the very lightest shade of beige is almost white, so it pays to add a darker background. :thumbup

Rodskarl Dubhgall
Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 06:23 AM

That's much easier for me, though it costs money to delve deeper than statistics.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 06:24 AM
Grandmother's maiden and Grandfathers:



Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 10:57 AM
My surname, 1881 and 1998. Then my "biological surname" 1881 and 1998. My father's father was adopted.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 11:35 AM
Something similar for French (http://www.notrefamille.com/v2/services-nom-de-famille/nom.asp) and German (http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen.aspx) family names.

The Black Prince
Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 04:52 PM
And also something similar for the Dutch surnames


Netherlands: http://www.familienaam.nl/
Belgium: http://www.familienaam.be/

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 05:00 PM
Would someone be willing to look up Lipp/Lippe on the German site? I don't speak a word of German, so I have no clue how to work the site.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 05:04 PM
Would someone be willing to look up Lipp/Lippe on the German site? I don't speak a word of German, so I have no clue how to work the site.Lipp (relative to population density)

http://forums.skadi.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=49867&stc=1&d=1138122193 (http://forums.skadi.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=49867&stc=1&d=1138122193)


http://forums.skadi.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=49868&stc=1&d=1138122205 (http://forums.skadi.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=49868&stc=1&d=1138122205)

Rodskarl Dubhgall
Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 05:09 PM
That's actually quite funny. The names are so close, yet so far apart!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006, 09:41 PM
That's actually quite funny. The names are so close, yet so far apart!

No kidding. I do know that the Lipp/e ancestor of mine was from Baden-Baden. He came to America in 1825 or 1852. (Don't have record on me at the moment.)

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006, 12:51 AM
My Grandmother's surname "Sommerfeld"

http://i1.tinypic.com/mjmut3.jpg (http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen_map.aspx?mode=abs)

Thursday, September 21st, 2006, 06:06 PM
My name is of Scottish origin and is still mainly found in Scotland. My name is Halket and I am an Englishman.