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 Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>