The British Newspaper Archive
Read about historical events at the time they were happening. Perhaps you'll discover your ancestor in their local newspaper?
Mr Emmerdale, meet Mrs Call centre
Website members devise new surnames for the 21st century
Colin Emmerdale, Sharon Callcentre and Mark Milton-Keynes. These would be some of the most common names in Britain in 2006 if new surnames were still coming into use, according to family history website Genes Reunited.
The website and its members have created a list of 2006-style surnames using the same derivations that shaped our names in the Middle Ages.
More than 9,000 people who are tracing the origins of their own surnames through Genes Reunited, the family history website run by Friends Reunited, took part.
The names suggested include Consultant, derived from the new-age job occupation, Spajunk from Spaghetti Junction and Spermson, for those fathered by sperm donors.
Genes Reunited's consultant genealogist, Anthony Adolph, said: "The vast majority of families had their surnames set in stone by the 16th Century.
"They were mostly inspired by the famous people of the day, by occupations and by features of the landscape - and just the same rules would apply if surnames were still being created today, in which case I wouldn't be surprised if the first Mr and Mrs Milton-Keynes or Carpark were to appear within the next century."
Genes Reunited asked members to use the same rules which shaped surnames in the Middle Ages to identify what would be the most common surnames of today.
The list includes:
- Spermson (son of a sperm donor)
- Emmerdale (a 'locative' name for people living near the set of the Soap Opera)
- Spajunk (from people living near the motorway interchange Spaghetti Junction)
- Consultant (an 'occupational' derivation)
- Callcentre (a 'topographic' feature for someone who lived near a call centre)
- Carpark (the modern equivalent of Hill or Bridges)
- Off-white (the new version of White made popular by TV makeover shows, though the name White originally arose through skin colour)
- Bling (nickname for one who dresses flashily. However, many nicknames arose ironically, so this could denote someone who dresses very dowdily.)
- Emailer (the new version of Mailer, though the surname Mailer is actually derived from an occupational surname for an enameller.)
- Boobjob (a nickname passed down through the maternal line only!)
WINDSOR, CHURCHILL... CAMERON!
Survey shows whose present-day surname we'd rather have
The new leader of the Conservative party has something millions of men and women in Britain want - his surname!
The name Cameron has come a surprise third in a survey by Genes Reunited of the surnames we'd most like to have as our own.
Windsor, with its obvious royal connections, comes first, followed by Churchill, clearly inspired by Winston - often voted the greatest ever Briton.
Next comes Cameron, surely prompted by the top Tory, ahead of Bond and Ross, presumably inspired in turn by 007 and the chat host Jonathan Ross. The name Blair is 19th, one place ahead of Bush.
Perhaps displaying the desire of many of us for anonymity, Smith and Jones - Britain's most prolific surnames - both figure inside the top 10 of the roll call of the most desirable surnames.
Consultant genealogist for Genes Reunited, Anthony Adolph, said: "A week may be a long time in politics, but it's a remarkably short time for a name to become so popular - so David Cameron has obviously struck a chord with the public.
"Mind you, it helps that it's a nice-sounding name - though with a bizarre meaning. Cameron is a Gaelic clan name that means 'crooked nose' and first arose as a nickname.
"Surnames derived from the famous figures of the day are nothing new. The fashion goes back to the Middle Ages and is responsible for many of our surnames today.
"The number of people now with surnames ending in 'son' - like Williamson and Thompson - shows the popularity of the first names William and Thomas in the 13th and 14th Centuries. These names were often inspired by the popular public figures of the day, such as Monarchs and Saints."
It's also interesting to look at the surname choices of men and women. Men had Churchill in first place, then Windsor, Bond, Cameron and Lennon. Women chose Windsor first, then Cameron, Ross, Churchill and McCartney.
The Genes Reunited survey reveals that in reality nine out of 10 of us are happy with our own surnames - though the younger we are the more likely we are to fancy a change. Two out of 10 under-25s don't like their surnames, compared with just three per cent of over 65s, showing perhaps that we become more comfortable with our names the longer we live with them.
Another surprise was that only two in 10 married women who had taken their husband's name said they preferred their maiden name.
Loyalty to our ancestors appears to prevent most people from changing their surnames. Asked what would stop you from changing your name, most people said it would be 'disloyal to my ancestors' and that it would 'lose a sense of continuity' with the past. Others thought it would be too confusing for their friends. Just four per cent said 'it would seem vain'.
A thousand people responded who had discovered that one of their ancestors had changed their surname. The changes from and to included:
|Bastard - Ross||Beaver - Fisher||Belcher - Jackson|
|Bogg - Brown||Cocking - King||Cockshot - Cockshout|
|Crapp - Holloway||Crutch - Nolan||Cumming - Spence|
|Fluck - Dors||Forehead - Forward||Freakes - Parson|
|Fuchs - Fox||Germany - Jermy||Gotobed - Griffin|
|Luney - Leviston||Lusted - Fraser||Nibbs - Knibbs|
|Onions - Ashton||Pratt - Preston||Puttock - Brown|
|Reeks - Reeves||Shufflebotham -Sheridan||Sucker - Secker|
|Titt - Tait||Toole - O'Toole|| |
Genes Reunited Survey results
What surname would you most like to have?
|Bush|| || |
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.