Sunday, September 16, 2007

Family Names and Popularity

I have recently made an alphabetical list of all the names in my family tree (both first and middle but not including passed on surnames). Just over 550 names for each gender (1100 overall), stretching from 1500 to the present day. From that I have worked out what are the most popular names, I now want to see which decade they fit best into.

There were about 10 more girls names, and more variety in the number of names 190 different names compared with the boys 140. From that I got a top 14 of:

1 Mary
2 Elizabeth
3 Ann
4 Sarah
5 Jane
6 Margaret
7 Florence
8 Catherine
9 Emily
10 Ellen
11 Eliza
12 Frances
13 Alice
14 Annie

Mary and Elizabeth are significantly ahead - Mary with approximately 50 ancestors with the name (either first or middle) and Elizabeth with ten less. The rest decrease from 19 ancestors for Ann and Sarah to 8 for Alice. The top half of this compares very favourably with a top 10 I have for 17001:

1 Mary
2 Elizabeth
3 Ann
4 Sarah
5 Jane
6 Margaret
7 Susan
8 Martha
9 Hannah
10 Catherine

The top 6 are exactly the same, though my family lacks a dearth of Susans, Marthas and Hannahs. Florence became much more popular following Florence Nightingale, at the end of the 19th century, so is unlikely to appear here. Emily can appear interchangeably on records as Amelia.

1 John
2 William
3 Charles
4 Thomas
5 James
6 George
7 Alfred
8 Henry
9 Frederick
10 Arthur
11 Edward
12 Harold
13 Peter
14 Francis

This doesn't coorrelate well with any list I have, though there are some similarities to a 1660-9 list2:
1 John
2 William
3 Thomas
4 Robert
5 Richard
6 James
7 George
8 Edward
9 Henry
10 Samuel
11 Joseph
12 Charles
13 Francis

There us no Robert or Richard in my list - mine is rather a mix of 1660s with Victorian revival of Germanic and Arthurian names (Alfred, Arthur, Frederick, Harold). Charles is a strong family name (used father to son on at least two branches of its family), which accounts for its high position. My family has both conformity and quirks.

1 Penguin Dictionary of First Names, Pickering
2 Christian Names in Local and Family History, Redmonds