We all know of surnames that have been deeply rooted in villages for hundreds of years or so we think.
Names that predominate in the C19th may not have been the same as those that were dominant in earlier centuries. Names that flourish in a village in the late C20th may be unheard of in the mid C19th.
Towns we know, attracted strangers into their midst. The population and thus the surnames much more transient. There are a hundred and one reasons why people and surnames shifted but in this simple study we are looking at those names that stick.
In the first instance we are going to examine the 1841 census and see what we can analyze from the surname data. We shall spin it and see what patterns emerge. The table is the complete set of names for people living in West Meon Hampshire.
A broad look at the list of surnames reveals….
- There are 218 surnames recorded, some are variations of the same surname
- The total of people holding a surname reveals a spread of 1 – 25 individuals holding a specific surname
- Of these 218 surnames, 99 are held by only one individual, that is 45%
- Of these 218 surnames, 27 are held by 8 or more individuals that is 12%
- Of these 218 surnames, 15 are held by 12 or more individuals, that is 7%
The high % of surnames held by just one person was a surprise
What might account for this and what does it tell us about the population as a whole? No absolutes here we are just playing with data but some possible scenarios to check out;
- The individuals are incomers to the village seeking employment so maybe are young agricultural labourers or servants
- The individuals are elderly, widowed, whose families have moved on, the surname will have a historical connection to the area
Surnames in West Meon in 1841
In order to sort the surnames we segmented the data thus;
1 – 2 holders of the surname LOW
3 – 7 holders of the surname AVERAGE
8 – 12 holders of the surname HIGH
> 12 holders of the surname VERY HIGH
Top Surnames greater than 8 individuals hold the surname
Dipping into the parish records
That was the surname world in West Meon in 1841 but were any of these high incidence surnames connected with the village going back hundreds of years? Could they really be called old village names? The only way to check is to look back at the parish records and look for the number of baptisms connected to that surname and see if there was a correlation. Of course this is not an absolute science, the names are sometimes difficult to read or records may not exist at all but it gives an indication of how long a surname has existed in a given locality. It is a rough measure, not an absolute, that is revealed in the data.
Adding more data
We will add the census data going forward and then use electoral rolls to ascertain the longevity of the name in West Meon and then we will see what names we can attach to locality from earlier sources. Let’s see how Hampshire some of these names are.
Why are we doing this?
Because we can and it’s fun to squeeze data a bit and see what pops up. No doubt there are many ways to interpret the information but let’s get the ball rolling and see where it goes.
Join us as we head down the Meon Valley
We shall be doing similar exercises in villages down the Meon Valley and in as many contiguous villages as possible, which should give us an interesting amount of data to work with.