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About the study
Many years ago I inherited the fruit of the 1930s research of a Dr Leonard Miskin of Dartford, comprising a family tree that folded out concertina-wise to about 6ft wide. Prodded somewhat by a distant relative in Salt Lake City (where else!), I eventually started looking through local Colyer-Fergusson transcripts of Kentish parish registers, and rapidly found (a) some relationships on the tree were wrong (b) there were references to several other Miskins who weren't located on it. How should the tree fit together? Where did the other Miskins fit? That started the challenge of tracking down all the various Miskins and assembling them into 4 main trees, which I have been gradually filling out for some 30 years.
I am not aware of any current variants. In historic records, the name has occasionally been written as Misken, Miskyn or Myskin. In the later 19th century the picture changed with the arrival in the UK or USA of immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe with names that were transliterated at some stage to Mishkin or Miskin or similar.
The longer term origin of the name is unclear - books offer varying answers. Some sources suggest it is based on the old French le Meschin. There are debatable family stories linking it to the village of Miskin (complete with Miskin Manor and Miskin Arms pub) in the ancient hundred of Miskin near Llantrisant in South Wales, but there's no evidence. And there's an ancient manor of Miskins in Sussex - again no connection found. In arabic there is a word miskin that means a poor or needy person, which has been adopted more widely across the muslim world; no connection has been made yet to the middle east, and DNA evidence so far does not point that way.
The name has always been rare in the UK. Only 182 occurrences of the name were found in 1881 (just 7 per million of population), 97 of which were in Kent and no more than 20 in any other county. At that time, emigration from UK had resulted in a further 18 in USA & Canada, 13 in Australia, and 6 in South Africa. The UK population in 1998 has been estimated at 272, however a current worldwide estimate, to include those of Eastern European and South Asian origin with the Miskin or equivalent name, has so far proved impossible.
Distribution of the name
Miskin is usually thought of as a Kentish name in the UK, although it would appear that it only really came to Kent in the 1610s. The earliest records found so far are actually in London and South Essex in the 1550s. From the 19th century onwards, with increased mobility, the name spread outside Kent, particularly to the London, St Albans and Hull areas, and by emigration to North America, Australasia and South Africa.
For the vast majority of family members, I mainly have the normally available details of births, marriages and deaths, with occupations and place of residence where the records provide this. I have also accumulated miscellaneous newspaper and other articles where the name is mentioned. And for my own small segment of the family I naturally have more extensive photographic and personal memorabilia. It is always useful to share information with other family history researchers, extending our mutual knowledge of the family lines and their origins : please do make contact by e-mail to the address below.
A DNA project has been set up to allow family members to explore how DNA can reveal more about the connections between those bearing the Miskin name or variants. If you have an interest in this name, and particularly if you share it yourself, do look at : http://www.familytreedna.com/public/miskin/