Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unique Family Name Website Is Boon To Linking Past & Present

17.01.2006


The popular BBC series ‘Who do you think you are?’ describes the quest of celebrities to trace their family histories back to the 19th century and beyond. Now a fascinating new study allows us all to explore the geography of our family histories, using a unique website that tracks how many people have our surnames, their origins and where they live today.



The Surname Profiler website (at www.spatial-literacy.org) is part of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) sponsored study led by Professors Paul Longley and Richard Webber of University College, London. It uses 46 million surname records supplied by Experian to identify the origins and past and present locations of Britain’s top 25,000 family names, and where they can be found in Ireland, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Methods developed in the study are also being used in a bid to understand patterns of population movement, social mobility, regional economic development and cultural identity.


Professor Longley said: “Along with providing a fascinating source of information for people wanting to trace their family roots, our study was aimed at understanding patterns of regional economic development, population movement and cultural identity.

“This databank will boost our ability to analyse such things as patterns of emigration from Britain. And it will be a boon to those working on issues from integration and assimilation into mainstream society to strategies for local policing.”

Methods developed in the study are also being used in a bid to improve health care, in an ESRC Knowledge Transfer Partnership co-sponsored by Camden Primary Care Trust (CPT) in North-West London. Researchers are investigating how the surname databank can be used in health promotion campaigns aimed at people from ethnic backgrounds prone to particular diseases.

The study revealed that 30 generations after our ancestors were first assigned a family name, surnames are still extremely regional. Delving back to the Census of 1881 it found that, perhaps surprisingly, Britain has actually seen little dispersal among most of the working population.

Smith remains the number one name, used by more than half a million in the UK. Today, as then, it is most concentrated in Lerwick, in Shetland. Between 1881 and 1998 the area in which individuals named ‘Paxman’ were most concentrated shifted from Cambridge to Romford, although they have done well for themselves: today only 1% of people have a more high status name. In New Zealand the name Paxman occurs most frequently in Auckland, while in the US the Paxmans have gravitated towards Utah.

Patel, a relatively new entrant to the charts, shot up from nil recorded in 1881 to more than 80,000 in the electoral register of 1998, making it Britain’s 40th most common surname. And the place with the largest number of Patels is Harrow, in North London.

Jones retains its position as the number two surname, with almost 400,000 bearing it. Blaenau Ffestiniog, in North Wales, remains their stronghold, with the highest grouping among upland hill farmers. Williams and Brown also keep their positions as the third and fourth most common names.

Professor Webber said: “We are very pleased and optimistic with this development, and believe that it represents an interesting example of the use of basic research to further the ESRC’s mission in health and lifestyles analysis, as well as improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery.”

Alexandra Saxon | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>