English names English Local Surnames Introduction Surnames, even common ones, are not evenly distributed throughout England and Wales. They vary in relative frequency from area to area. Common names may be present thoughout, but even these show a tendency to concentrate in some areas rather than others. This exercise, however, is not concerned with names found throughout England, but with those names that seem to be peculiar to one area – a county or counties. You cannot travel throughout the counties of England without encountering names that are very common in that area but seemingly non-existent elsewhere. In the area that I live, I am aware of names like Goble, Edney and Cawte that I do not encounter elsewhere. Why should this be? People, especially since the Industrial Revolution, have travelled in search of economic security. Even today, the explosion in higher education often results in offspring settling in areas distant from their parents, who in turn may retire to areas distant from where they were themselves raised. Why then has there not been a dispersal of English local surnames? Why have they remained such a resilient feature? For the pre-industrial past, an explanation has been found in the actual nature of migration patterns. Although: “movement beyond the parish boundary was commonplace, nevertheless most movement was restricted to a radius of between 20-25 miles, within an area bounded by the nearest market town. Much of the movement in and out of parishes was by the young farm and domestic servants and apprentices. Young people often returned upon inheriting the family farm or cottage. Studies of communities and local societies in many different parts of the country have emphasised the contrast between this mobility and the stability of core groups of families over the generation.” (David Hey) For the post-industrial age, I suspect that, although migration has been more extensive, an English local surname may have reached such a critical mass in numbers that it would require a huge diffusion due to migration to affect the discernible concentration. I also suspect that, although some may move permanently away, others are attracted back to their area of origin by the magnet of family relationships. How can English Local Surnames be unearthed? To create a headlist of local surnames requires access to a national survey of names. For the present day, this would mean an examination of all the British Telecom print telephone directories to discover which names appear copiously in one directory but not another. This would be an arduous and daunting task (although the appearance of BT directories on CD-ROM does makes the task of ascertaining distribution of a known name far simpler to accomplish). There has been a national survey of the 1980s telephone directories which linked names to areas; however, the results have not yet been, and may not be, published. [Ref]. On the same note it is now possible, since the publication of the 1881 Census Index Project, to extract information on the distribution of a known name for late Nineteenth Century England. This will be an absolute goldmine for checking the distribution of known names. But again, what is required in the first place is a headlist, and then to use the 1881 Census to verify that headlist. Such a headlist has been in existence for the last 100 years. But only now, is it capable of being verified. Guppy and his Homes of Family Names of Great Britain H B Guppy published his pioneering work on surname distribution in 1890. He was attempting to discover whether names could be associated with areas; whether the current distribution of a name belied its original source. As he had no access to census data, Guppy surveyed what he took to be a representative sample of a stable population. This he took to be the established farmers who were listed in the vaious county directories of the period. Guppy’s method was to count the occurences of farmers’ surnames by county. Guppy selected a cut-off point by ignoring all occurrences which had a relative frequency of less than 7 per 10,000 names. The rest he re-arranged by a system of proportional numbers per 10,000 families in a county, so that all occurrences of a name in a one county were comparable with those in another, regardless of population differences. Guppy listed names within each county under the following headings: General Names found in 30-40 counties Common Names found in 20-29 counties Regional Names found in 10-19 counties District Names found in 4-9 counties County Names found in 2-3 counties Peculiar Names found in 1 county mostly Limitations of Guppy Guppy has been criticised for providing not a source of family names, but merely a distribution of farmers’ names circa 1890. He assumed that farmers were the most stable element of society. However this was not necessarily so; younger sons were probably more mobile of necessity than the eldest sons who were to inherit the farmholding. His method also ignored many other local names because they were not those of farmers. For example, there must be names associated with towns that Guppy’s methodology has failed to find. Guppy also misses many local surnames. Edgar Tooth gives numerous local examples of those missed by Guppy in his Distinctive Surnames of North Staffordshire. I have tried to offset these limitations by incorporating the list of names in William Addison’s Understanding English Surnames. Unfortunately Addison gives no indication of the criteria that he used for the inclusion of a name. He merely states that he has used Guppy as a starting point. He gives no reason for excluding a name on the Guppy list. Neither does he indicate whether he is basing his survey on a current or a past distribution. Both Guppy and Addison should be treated with caution until both have been tested. The headlist that I have compiled started as an alphabetical sorting of Guppy’s ‘Peculiar Names’ relating to the historic English counties. The list of names in William Addison’s Understanding English Surnames was then merged into this. List of local English surnames: A-E F-J K-O P-T U-Z Home versus Source Guppy called his book Homes of Family Names of Great Britain Perhaps he should have called it Sources of Family Names of Great Britain as he was attempting to equate the (then) present distribution with a historic distribution. By ‘source’, he meant the location of the holder(s) of the name, in the age when surnames were becoming established. This kind of linkage is suspect. For example, the surname Lound derives from a Suffolk village of the same name. The modern day distribution, as revealed by a telephone directory survey, indicates that there are no longer any Lounds in East Anglia. Indeed, the name is now most commonly found around Sheffield! Locative names (surnames derived from place-names) with few bearers are notoriously prone to erratic distribution. And a fair proportion of English local surnames may be locative surnames. I would conjecture that a name needs to have reached a critical mass in numbers before it achieves locational stability. Common names have achieved this stability so that the distribution 500 years ago is comparable with that today. Unfortunately, English local surnames are not widespread. So until proved, the distribution of a local name today or a 100 years ago may be deemed only to be its home at that time. It is inadvisable to assume that the name has been there since time immemorial. Notes on Using the list The English Local Surnames List combines two lists that do not naturally dovetail together: 1) Addison seems to use pre-1974 counties with the exception of Cumbria and Yorkshire. Rutland is grouped with Leicestershire. 2) Guppy lists variations found; Addison uses just a preferred version. 2a) I have followed Guppy and given each variation its own entry, and used a ‘See also’ symbol >> to guide the user from one Guppy variation to another. However, there may well be other variations on a name which need to be signposted. 3) If a name is listed in more than one county, then there is a separate entry for each county. Local surnames are often derived from placenames which are not necessarily unique. 4) Because of the way that this list was compiled the notation Gu/Ad means that the name is present in one of the sources, rather than both.