Picture: named
Picture: named

How popular is your surname around different parts of the UK?

For certain inherited surnames from cultures, countries and dialects it should be obvious - but if you don't know, we have a way to find out.

Academics from University College London have used geographical data from the Consumer Data Research Centre to build a website which generates a heat map of the country based on the prevalence of your surname.

The website seems to work pretty well:

Unless you use an accent in your name:

We ran a few famous names through the system to see what happened:

Professor Paul Longley, project leader, says that the map shows that surnames have not migrated far since the 12th and 14th centuries:

The website is a quirky start of our research project which is looking into whether our surnames are linked to our geographical locations – something which has been long perceived. It is known that many names remain surprisingly concentrated in specific parts of the UK, and this project helps us extend our understanding of name geography to combinations of names too when we enter relationships.

Most Anglo Saxon family names came into common usage between the 12th and 14th centuries, and were first coined in particular parts of the country. What is interesting is that most individuals do not move far from their ancestral family homes and so, 700 or more years later, most names can still be associated with particular localities.

With all the current focus on population migration, it is remarkable to see that most individuals and families stay put throughout the generations. As a consequence it is interesting to reflect that names are still often strong indicators of kinship and regional identity.

Try it for yourself at named.publicprofiler.org.

Users of the website are invited to feedback to the researchers whether they really are able to predict the locations at which romance blossomed - so be sure to let them know how accurate they were on their site.

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