I've always been fascinated by the diversity of surnames and their geographical distribution, and my mind takes a leap when I speak to somebody with a surname new to me. This week's new names were DRAGE, ABLITT and QUICKFALL.
When I was a child holidaying in West Mersea, Essex, the dominance of particular surnames was really obvious; MUSSETT by a long way the most common, other common names being PAYNE, COX, CLARKE.
There is a new feature on our parish pages that shows the 20 most common surnames in the burial places that we've recorded and published. For example, on the Galashiels parish page, the 20 most common surnames on gravestones recorded by us in the Galashiels - Eastlands and St Peter's monumental inscriptions volume are (number of gravestones in brackets): SCOTT (132), BROWN (109), THOMSON (71), WILSON (69), MURRAY (67), DAVIDSON (57), ANDERSON (54), SMITH (53), HENDERSON (53), ROBERTSON (48), SANDERSON (47), TURNBULL (41), BELL (41), DOUGLAS (39), STEWART (38), DICKSON (37), WOOD (37), HALL (35), McLAREN (35), WELSH (35),
and the 20 most common surnames on gravestones recorded by us in the Galashiels - Old Ladhope monumental inscriptions volume are (number of gravestones in brackets): BROWN (29), SANDERSON (21), SCOTT (20), ROBERTS (14), PATERSON (13), HALL (13), MURRAY (12), THOMSON (10), WALKER (9), WILSON (9), DICKSON (9), MARK (8), CAIRNS (8), SIME (8), LAIDLAW (8), CLARK (7), HEWAT (7), HOGARTH (7), MAXWELL (7), ANDERSON (7).
Some of our monumental inscriptions volumes include burial grounds in more than one parish, for example, Channelkirk and Legerwood . As the composite index for the volume is included in the Gravestones Index, the parish pages for these parishes show the 20 most common surnames in the composite index.
We've created this list for each of our publications and we'll add more lists as we revise or issue new monumental inscriptions books and CDs. See our parish pages for the parishes that interest you.
However, it’s not a totally accurate guide to the popularity of surnames in a parish. Obviously, the surnames of people for whom there is no gravestone aren’t included, and the burials in each cemetery are over a long period of time, so some surnames might have been more common in the 1820s than they were in the 1920s.