The British Newspaper Archive
Read about historical events at the time they were happening. Perhaps you'll discover your ancestor in their local newspaper?
Brown moves into centre ground but Cameron tops the poll
Following a virtuoso display of oratory panache from his main opponent this week, new chinks are appearing in Gordon Brown's political armour; research from popular genealogy website Genes Reunited suggests that his name fails to set hearts aflutter like that of David Cameron. Cameron improves on last year's surprise third place to top a poll of the surnames that Genes Reunited members would most like to have as their own.
The name Brown, meanwhile, accomplishes the Prime Minister's stated goal of occupying the centre ground by sliding into an inconspicuous 8th position in the 20-name league table; though the latest incumbent of Number 10 has comfortably outstripped the performance of his predecessor, with Blair having been consigned to 19th in last year's poll.
The former Prime Minister's departure from the hot seat has thawed public opinion enough for him to sneak in at 15th in this year's survey; however his political pal Bush retains his rock-bottom credibility rating, propping up the table at 20th for the second consecutive year.
With Cameron's success in the Genes Reunited poll still disproportionate to that of his political policy, the poll highlights the chasm between style and substance following a Blairite era dominated by Machiavellian spin doctors and PR politics. In fact, there are those who would argue that the popularity of Cameron's name is comparable to that of his speech at the Conservative Party Conference: while many of those polled chose Cameron as the name with which they would most like to replace their own, 50% did so because they considered it to be the "nicest sounding" - compared to only 5% who considered it to be the "most trustworthy".
Youth fared strongly in this year's poll, with Young - presumably inspired by pop star Will, though perhaps with a helping hand from country icon Neil - featuring at second, and a surprise entry for Kaplinsky at three. The fresh-faced BBC News presenter was perhaps boosted in the poll by an appearance on the channel's Who Do You Think You Are? Program earlier this year.
Anthony Adolph, Genes Reunited's resident genealogist, commented 'there's quite an anti-English bias here. First choice Cameron is a Lowland Scottish name, second choice Young is commonest in Lowland and Central Scotland, and third choice Kaplinsky is Eastern European. Even if people are genetically English, many like to imagine they come from somewhere more romantic, and Scotland and Eastern Europe certainly tick those boxes. The three least popular surnames, Hurt, Spears and Bush, are all good, solid English ones - but nobody seems to want them!
I wonder if people would have made the same choice if they knew what the names actually mean. Kaplinsky means "son of the chaplain" and Young means what it sounds like - I'm sure that has contributed a lot to its popularity. But first choice Cameron comes from a Gaelic nickname, camshron. It sounds very nice, and I bet that's why it is so popular, but it means "crooked nose"! I bet knowing that would knock Cameron off its top spot!
The popular BBC TV programme Who Do You Think You Are? has demonstrated that the etymology of a surname is by no means the only mystery likely to be uncovered by an investigation into one's family history; the recent surge in interest in genealogy suggests the pursuit strikes a chord in the popular psyche. The status of genealogy as one of the fastest growing areas online activities is reflected in the increasing popularity of Genes Reunited; the sister site of online networking phenomenon Friends United has recorded membership figures of over 7.2 million worldwide, with 6.5 million of those based in the UK.
Of those polled, 45.6 % considered the most compelling reason for investigating one's family history to be "to know where they came from" - followed in rank by creating " a sense of identity". Interestingly, "establishing social status and lineage" and "creating positive role models" were not considered to be important, with "promoting historical understanding" and "establishing genetic characteristics" faring somewhat better.
Learn more about the Friendship Panel and their next task at: www.friendspanel.co.uk
Genes Reunited Survey Results
Notes to the Editor - About Genes Reunited
Genes Reunited was launched in 2002 as a sister-site to the Internet phenomenon Friends Reunited. Since then it has grown to become the UK's largest genealogy website.
It marked a revolution in genealogy and ancestry by combining them with Internet social-networking. Members are able to build their family tree by posting it on the site and investigating which ancestors they share with other members. They can also search historical records such as census, birth, death, marriage and military records.
It currently has over 11 million members and over 750 million names listed. One new name is added to the site every single second.