Sunday, February 11, 2007

How local are you ?

Or at least, how local is your SURNAME.

The SURNAME PROFILER site has been around for a while. It shows the Geographical distribution of your surname in two years: 1881 and 1998, so you can see whether your surname has migrated over the years from its original geographical origin.
Here's a few examples so you can see what I mean.
First of all, let's start with PARKINSON
This has a distribution in and around Merseyside and spreading into Yorkshire, which is where I was born.
Then we have NUNNERLEY. This is a Welsh based name, and Mr. Nunnerley was indeed born in Wales.

OK - now for some local names, starting with AUKER.
Now BALLS: another very local name...
and finally BENEFER, which as you can see is only found in this area.

Try your own name... See whether it has migrated over the years.
Also read THIS NEW STATESMAN article, which has some interesting quotes:

If you flick between the two maps for most names, you see the spread of families from a specific heartland to other areas of the country. Thus you might be inclined to conclude that Longley and his colleagues have demonstrated the flexibility and geographical mobility of British people during the past century. In fact, that is not what is being displayed. If we compare the two sets of maps, the old and the new, the really striking aspect is that the original pockets of surnames on 1881 maps remain exactly where they are on the maps of 1998. So, yes, some people move on, but a greater number stay put.

"What we see most in the 1998 maps is just a blurring of surname hot spots as a few people head off and start up lives somewhere else," says Longley. "The real surprise for us was the extent to which people appear to stay where they are. Moving on to a new life in a new location is too traumatic for most people and so they stay where they are, getting on with their lives much as their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did before them." Therefore, the idea that we are increasingly socially mobile may be a myth. Journalists and academics may move about the country but most people stay put.

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