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extinct surnames -- anybody got any?

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JaneyCanuck Report 8 Dec 2007 23:45

Mine is RUSHLAND. It just seems odd to me that this happened, so I'm curious how common it is.

A bit of the tale of my Rushlands is here:

Basically, there were apparently swarms of Rushlands around Boston, Lincolnshire, in the 1600s and 1700s, but there seems to have been a bit of a tendency on the part of the male family members to produce daughters disproportionately.

As far as I can tell, my Berry Rushland born c1780 is the last one to have had sons, and his two did not reproduce. Four of his five daughters did, fruitfully. But the only English Rushland in the census database is Frances, widow of that Berry (whose actual name was probably Tryphoena Yalding).

Except for:

-- Elizabeth Rushland in one census, reported born 1819 in Thrapston, Northamptonshire. She doesn't seem to have married or died. (The person who corrected her mistranscribed name at Ancestry is an unrelated genealogist who stumbled on it.) I'd suspect her of being my grx3 grfather's first wife, not dead but absconded, but she's too young and nothing else fits. She could be the result of an uninterested employer's inaccurate report.

-- Mary Ann Rushland, born c1839, died 1906 Cornwall. That's the only record of her, and either there's an error or she or her husband came from Scotland. (? Why isn't my Frances in the death index?)

There is a Scottish Mr. Rushland in a couple of English censuses.

Things in the censuses that look like they might be Rushland, like Rusland and Rustland, aren't, they're mistranscriptions of other things.

There are Rushlands in Scotland, but I wouldn't know what the connection if any is, since mine are documented back to the 1500s in Lincolnshire.

My grx3 grfather Samuel Littler married Elizabeth Rushland b1805 first, in 1822, and when she died he set up house with her widowed sister Sarai (Welbourn), my grx3 grandmother, and had the bulk of his children with her. A couple of children in the next two generations had Rushland as a given name, but that was it.

I'm just surprised at such an ordinary-sounding name going the way of the dodo. There are no Rushlands in the Canadian phone book either, and all of the various websites named rushland dot org or net etc. seem to have nothing to do with the surname.

I'm stuck searching for Hills in Devon/Cornwall in one of my branches, and there was no danger of extinction for that crew. A few surviving Rushlands to balance things out would have been nice.

So -- anybody else got extinct indigenous surnames?


Heather Report 8 Dec 2007 23:54

I was talking to a customer recently who is the last in her line - Whalebelly. Now there is a name, eh?!

Sue in Somerset

Sue in Somerset Report 9 Dec 2007 00:11

I don't think it is extinct yet but I seem to have the only Barterman on GR.

Somewhere I remember reading that surname extinctions weren't that uncommon and that (not counting immigrants) we have fewer surnames than there used to be. I can't remember why the mathematics for that worked but it's happened on some isolated islands or mountain communities where the majority of people end up with one name.

Even allowing for strange spellings there were some unusual surnames in the past.

I just did a google and this is what I found

Bit heavy going that one but on this site
I found this snippet

"One other way of looking at inheritance of the Y chromosome is to follow surnames in societies with patrilineal inheritance. Genealogists generally examine family trees retrospectively, which is a bit distorting as everyone alive today obviously has 100% fertile ancestors. However as you go back in time, pedigrees collapse as the same persons start to appear in different parts of the tree, due to inbreeding. Prince Charles, for example, can trace his ancestry to Edward III through 3,000 separate lineages. Surname extinction has been recognised for a long time. Thus 300 English aristocratic families claim descent from William the Conqueror but only one can claim unbroken descent in the male line. Of the 5,000 feudal knights listed in the Domesday Book, every single name is now extinct, and the average duration of a hereditary title in the Middle Ages was only three generations."


"Obviously surnames disappear for a number of reasons other than infertility. Warfare carried off many young men before they could become fathers; of course this was to the benefit of the older men who stayed behind and gained potential access to the women. Name-changing, celibacy, homosexuality, clerical errors or simply having no sons will result in surname extinction, along with the Y chromosome of that particular male lineage. Three-quarters of all English surnames have disappeared since 1350, and some computer simulations suggest that eventually we'll all have the same surname, or number. In China the Han people are down to about 200 common surnames and in Korea there are only 80. Most significant of all is the observation from the English records that a surprising 32% of families did not have a son who married or who had legitimate offspring."




JaneyCanuck Report 9 Dec 2007 00:37

Now why didn't I do that? I'm the google fanatic!

"Three-quarters of all English surnames have disappeared since 1350"

Who'd a thunk that?

"Most significant of all is the observation from the English records that a surprising 32% of families did not have a son who married or who had legitimate offspring."

Somebody's been busy to work that out.

It's going to become a different ballgame this century, as women sensibly keep their own surnames and sometimes pass them to children.

In my family of two girls and two boys (yes, the perfect 1950s household), there are three kids in the next generation, all of whom have hyphenated surnames. What they do with their own kids will be their problem. ;)

We're fortunate to have a male line on my mother's side -- her brothers, sons of a father who was the son of a father with the surname that's our bugaboo -- since it didn't really belong to the gr-grfather of mine who passed it on. When I get around to it, we'll actually be able to have that uncle or a son of his spit on a stick and maybe find out what my mother's name really oughta be.

"Of the 5,000 feudal knights listed in the Domesday Book, every single name is now extinct"

In some cases, wouldn't that actually be mutated rather than extinct, though? For instance, William Le Moyne who is supposed to have accompanied that other French William is considered to be the ancestor of the Monck clan ... of which my gr-grfather may or may not have been one. ;)

Dang, I gotta figure out some way of getting access to JSTOR:

"JSTOR: Was There a Crisis of the Knightly Class in the Thirteenth Century ...
... William of Fifield; William le Moyne; Bardolph of Chastleton; ...... Dr Harvey has shown that at the time of Domesday Book these knights usually held ..."

Was There a Crisis of the Knightly Class in the Thirteenth Century? The Oxfordshire Evidence
D. A. Carpenter
The English Historical Review, Vol. 95, No. 377 (Oct., 1980), pp. 721-752

Enquiring minds want to know: was there??

Thanks for that info! Makes me feel not so all alone. ;)


JaneyCanuck Report 9 Dec 2007 00:45

Whalebelly ... google finds (I don't click on myspace links for fear of loud noise and crashing browsers): - jonah whalebelly - 32 - Male - Low Self Esteem ...

Maybe it hasn't so much died out as been rejected by its bearers!

Oh, ha ha. Jonah Whalebelly, I get it. Duh.

There's a website for the real surname!

°o.OOº°‘¨Claire in Wales¨‘°ºOO.o°

°o.OOº°‘¨Claire in Wales¨‘°ºOO.o° Report 9 Dec 2007 02:27

Very, very common Catherine. You would think that Grandad was very safe having produced 5 sons & 2 daughters. 5 sons produced 1 son between the lot of them & he had 2 daughters. Bye bye name, RIP!


JaneyCanuck Report 9 Dec 2007 02:48

Well yes -- but granddad had to already be the only one left with the surname! Imagine that happening to the demmed Hills.

That's what seems to have happened in the case of my Berry Rushland. I should devote a lot of time to figuring out what happened to all the other male Rushlands.

Seriously! One runs out of things to do instead of working ...

°o.OOº°‘¨Claire in Wales¨‘°ºOO.o°

°o.OOº°‘¨Claire in Wales¨‘°ºOO.o° Report 9 Dec 2007 03:05

Lucky me. ended up with an out of area surname which meant I was able to take a generation back & go forward again (gosh, horror, she did it without certs!). Where did I find my relations? Obvious place, living across the road, literally! Yes I found my 2nd coz when he toodled across the road to instal a garden gate!


JaneyCanuck Report 9 Dec 2007 03:31

That's funny.

My nephew found his 3rd cousin (if I'm doing it right -- common grx2 grparents) at a family reunion my mum and I and her cousin and her son organized nearly 10 years ago -- all the descendants of my mum's father's parents who immigrated to Canada 1910 with 7 kids, 5 of whom reproduced multiply.

Not an odd place to find one's 3rd cousin -- except when one discovers that the 3rd cousin is the person who sits in the next row in one's grade 8 classroom in Toronto.

The ancestors immigrated to a small town on Georgian Bay northwest of Toronto; my grfather settled in London, southwest of Toronto, and his older siblings dispersed around other smallish cities and towns in the province. My brother and various other upwardly mobile descendants of my generation moved to the trendy downtown big city, and there my nephew and his cuz were, classmates. And they couldn't stand each other.

Sue in Somerset

Sue in Somerset Report 9 Dec 2007 12:23

I moved to an area where some of my ancestors came from and (to cut a long story short) discovered that my close friend and neighbour is my half third cousin! She and I share a 2x great grandmother but by different 2x great grandfathers,
Our kids grew up playing together and once when a lad was bullying my friend's daughter on the school bus, my younger daughter thumped him and said "Leave my cousin alone!".



Heather Report 9 Dec 2007 12:36

Whalebelly is such a lovely name, Id be very tempted to keep it going somehow. I just wonder where on earth it could have originated? The lady I spoke to who is her last Whalebelly in her line said the family assumed the ancestors must have been mummers and acted out Jonah and the Whale so often that they took the name.

Personally I reckon it must have evolved from something - may be a foreign name and locals adapted it to an English sounding one.

Kath, ! Just had a look at that site and LOL, that must be the same lady I spoke to! I am in Norfolk too and she lists her Norfolk ancestry on there plus the Mummers story that she told me. Also, I note that like I believe, she has a mention on there of a Norman knight, Wal le Belle (?) and I feel pretty sure it is much more likely derived from a foreign name adapted to the english.


JaneyCanuck Report 9 Dec 2007 19:16

I'd bet on the foreign-name theory too.

There sure were a load of Whalebellys in 1891, for instance -- but only a handful have been born, or died, since 1984.

So ... I'm the only one with a name unique in the entire history of English censuses and BMD registrations?

Frances (or Tryphoena Yalding) Rushland, a Rushland by marriage at that, whose death doesn't even seem to have been registered ...

I really should order up that alleged 1906 Rushland death record and see who the imposter was.