Drawing Conclusions from Data

Surnames

Courtesy of WordCloud.com

One of the elements of drawing conclusions is understanding the meaning of the surname.

Surname are typically formed from the following, withe those in bold the most common:

  • Patronymic – based on the given name of a male ancestor and is the male equivalent of a Matronymic surname.
    • Jones, Erickson, Williams
  • Matronymic – based on the given name of a female ancestor and is the female equivalent of Patronymic. These are less common that the male equivalent.
    • Megson, Babbs,Parnell
  • Genitive –
    • Manners, Squires,
  • Locative – based on a place or area
    • Redhill, Newton
  • Occupational
    • Butcher, Baker, Thatcher
  • Nicknames
    • Redhead, Toogood, Fox

Surname with multiple origins may well have multiple meanings. Other considerations are that language, French and Latin has influenced English surnames.

Italian surnames are different again and can be broken down into these core groups:

Pet names, Botanical names, those reflecting kinship, geographical, names relating to animals, insects, fish, birds, occupational, objects, those reflecting desirable or undesirable traits and Compound names, which are surname made up of more than one word. I will come back to Italian surnames in another post at a later date, after this initial series has finished.

In this section too you can look at events that might affect families, such as illegitimacy and foundlings. One thing you might also seek to understand is how much more work you have to do in a particular country or record set. By using a spreadsheet to track marriages for example for England and Wales you will be able to see how many marriages you still need to access.

If your surname is one that is generally speaking common in one or more regions, then you may choose to analyse the stray examples.

Further elements are covered in the Pharos Introduction to One-Name Studies course as well as reading Seven Pillars: The Art of a One-Name Study published by the Guild of One-Name Studies.

Meanwhile, I’ll be back tomorrow talking about communications linked to our studies.

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