Working on a Global Surname Project , for a Geographically Concentrated Surname

Typically surnames will have a hotbed presence, even the most common surnames. In those instances, it will often be personal to the researcher. In the case of my own Butcher ancestors, Surrey is a particular hotbed for me, followed by Sussex and London with my own family groups migrating across the seas at varying times to Canada and Australia.


Distribution Map using Surname Atlas, based upon the 1881 Census for England and Wales

From my study though, Butcher appears as a widespread surname, but as we can see from this image, concentrations appear in some Counties more than others.

The darker the colour the more instances of the surname. My native Surrey comes out the most, as does Kent, Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk. If we look at Sussex there are few instances there. In Scotland, there are the least instances of the name, as far north as Moray, Angus and Perth.

Butchers - surname atlas

Distribution Map using Surname Atlas, based upon the 1881 Census for England and Wales


If I look at the map for the variant of Butchers, the spread of the surname is very different. The disparity between the numbers, could be for a variety of reasons, but probably pronunciation and the adjustments of the name over time – essentially loosing the “s” at the end of the name.

Guild members, upon registering a surname agree to the commitment to research the surname globally and this does mean to go beyond the members own family. There is no constraints as to when you go global, just that you do.

Quite recently someone remarked to me that they had not registered their study, because the research shows that the surname in question had not undertaken significant migration. There is a difference between a surname not organically migrating and a member choosing to not pursue a surname on a global scale and they are not the same thing. It is hardly the members’ fault if their surname has not migrated on a global scale, so why restrict yourself to the benefits that undoubtedly come from surname registration?

Many surnames are regionally featured. I can think of a few, all registered with the Guild and listed below. To find about them, visit the Guild’s website and insert the name into the surname search box:

  • Daglish (hotbed is in the north east of England)
  • Tickle (hotbed is Devon and north east of England)
  • Tresise (hotbed is Cornwall)
  • Featherstone (hotbed is in part of Yorkshire and north east of England)
  • Keough (hotbed is Ireland and Lancashire)
  • Orlando (hotbed is Italy)

What I find interesting is the reasons for the migration from one region to another, one country to another. That is why, global is important because otherwise you cannot be sure that you have captured all individuals with that name, irrespective of the country of origin or time frame.

Context is very important, that is how the study holders of some of the studies above will be able to establish the cause of movement of individuals bearing those surnames. In these cases, mining may well be the cause.

In terms of families working in the mining industries, whether you are mining tin or coal is neither here or there. It is the skill involved that is key. People with a skill and the bravery to migrate may well have caused the name to become global, even if the name started out regionally. In the case of mining, I can think of movement from the north east to counties in the midlands, Wales to Patagonia, Sicily to part of the United States.

It is material such as this that can be explored as part of a one-name study and is covered in the Advanced One-Name Studies course.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in Advanced One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 902), Butcher One-Name Study, Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, Practicalities of a One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 903). Bookmark the permalink.

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