This web site might be of interest to geographers – it produces a ‘heat map’ for the UK according to the distribution of selected surnames.
The data used for the website comes from the Consumer Data Research Centre, and shows that
on average surnames have not moved far in distance over the last 700 years. Many UK residents have Anglo Saxon family names that came into common usage between the 12th and 14th centuries, and were first coined in particular parts of the country. With many individuals not moving far from their ‘roots’, 700 or more years later most names can still be associated with particular localities. However, the geography of many popular family names (like Smith or Brown) is much more evenly spread, although even popular names like Jones, Williams or Davies still have strong regional connotations.
As ‘new’ names have been imported from overseas during the past 60 years or so, many of these have become concentrated in our urban areas. But they are beginning to show a wider dispersal in more recent times as migrants assimilate into UK society. I produced a map for my own surname, and it showed the hottest colours in the north west of England. Are there lots of Berry’s up in the north west?However, I was relieved to see there is also a smaller ‘hot island’ close to my home area in Devon.
Why don’t you log on, and type in your own surname to see what pattern it shows? I’m sure students would be keen to explore this site themselves, using their own name and that of their friends, boyfriends or girlfriends.
How could we use this site in a structured way in the geography classroom?