Find out how posh your surname is …

19 Feb
Census taker visits a family living in a carav...

Image via Wikipedia

When we got married, my husband and I chose a new surname.  He changed his name to it before our wedding, and then when I married him, I also took on the same name.

The reason for this was that we wanted to have the same name, and his surname with my first name made me sound like a porn star … As marriage represented a new phase in our life for both of us, we decided that we’d both move forward together and take a new name.

It was an interesting process trying to choose a new surname.  It’s effectively a rebranding exercise – how do you find something that’s distinctive without being strange, that people can spell, that means something positive, that has a similar linguistic heritage to your own names?

One of the best resources we used was the National Trust Names, which has now been rebranded ‘Great Britain Family Names Profiler‘.  This website is allows you to see where all the people with your surname were based in the 1888 census, and then compare the same name with the 1998 census.  You can see if names become more or less popular, see if there’s any migration within the UK, as well as access a wealth of socio-economic data about people with the same name as you.

There have to be at least 100 people with that name on the census for it to appear, and as the UK has become more diverse over the last century, we see a lot more names that have originated from other languages.  Names like Singh and Khan, for instance, are among the most common in the UK.  (The website promises there is going to be a worldwide version soon too – woo hoo!)

One of the most entertaining features of the site is you can actually find out how posh your name is.   If you punch in your name, you should initially see a map of the distribution of your surname in 1998, based on the census results.

If you look at the top, you can see a link for the ‘Map of 1881’, which will allow you to compare how people with your surname have spread (or contracted) in the last 100 years.

‘Frequency and ethnicity’ allows you to establish how many people have your name on the 1998 census, whether it’s grown or declined, and how common it is overall.  You can also see  the ethnic origin of all people with your surname in 1998; this is often really fascinating and shows you how diverse Britain now is.

Finally, my favourite part of the website is ‘Geographical location‘.  This link means you can see the most common postal area for your surname, not only in the UK, but also in Australia, New Zealand and the US.

But if you look to the bottom of the page, you’ll see a line for ‘Percentage of people with a higher-status name’.  This effectively tells you how posh your surname is – if only 10% of people have a ‘higher status name’ than you, you know you’re up there with Wills and Kate; make it 90%, and let ‘s just say you won’t be getting an invite to the wedding.

It’s great fun to compare just how posh your surname is to your partner’s and friends’ surnames – you never know what surprises it may throw up!



3 Responses to “Find out how posh your surname is …”

  1. bigstronglong June 11, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

    Lool gay


  1. On the history of surnames « Rum Ram Ruf - March 28, 2011

    […] I’m fascinated by people’s names, something you might guess from my earlier post on finding out how posh your surname is. […]

  2. On Wetwang, Souldrop, Piddle and why Ashby-de-la-Zouche is the most fascinating place name in England « Rum Ram Ruf - April 29, 2011

    […] already blogged twice about surnames – once on the history of surnames, the other on how posh your surname is.  I have an equally-fervid love of the history of place names (toponymy), although it’s a little […]

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