Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday – www.gbnames.publicprofiler.org

Let me introduce you to my latest favorite website – www.gbnames.publicprofiler.org.  It’s a surprise to me, a person who before this was not very interested in surname origins and frequencies. However, this is a great site to explore. (Professors at University College London gathered the data, and there may be more functions than I have figured out and described here.)

The full name of the site was once perhaps Great Britain Names, but they have expanded so click ‘Great Britain Family Names Profiler’ from the list on the home screen. Notice the other interesting choices there, such as World Names Profiler. When you type in a name at the next prompt, another screen brings up a list of name variations and meanings of the names.  Click the name you want, and the next screen shows a map of Great Britain with areas of high frequency highlighted in shades of blue.
I first tried the family name, BRETT, and from the list of variations, I clicked again on BRETT. A map of the whole island; England, Wales and Scotland, appeared on the left. The darkest hue was in Essex and Kent and secondly, in Norfolk and Suffolk, with some lighter areas along the southern coast. On the right side of the screen is a large scale map of Greater London that showed the BRETTS only on the east side of the city.

I tried another family name, HAYLETT, and the map showed an even higher concentration in East Anglia. As I tried a few more names from my family tree which is really a study of my Norfolk ancestors, I realized that I needed to use another name to see if other parts of the map actually lit up. The name that came to mind was David Cameron, the present UK prime minister. The blue showed  up in western Scotland and only there.
There are two choices of maps – 1881 and 1998. Just click on the earlier time and see the concentration then and the later date to see how migration within the UK changed the traditional places associated with the name.  The BRETT name shows itself in York and Hull area on the 1998 map as well as in the southeast.

One drawback is that the areas correspond with UK postal codes, not the usual county outlines genealogists are used to, but as you pass your cursor over an area, the name of a city appears. For example, holding the cursor over what I believe is Norfolk brings up “NR-Norwich”, the postal code, for the  county seat of Norfolk.
OT (Off Topic) – There are other maps like this on the internet. A present day map of Poland with name frequencies can be found at www.moikrewni.pl/mapa. Google Translator came in handy here.

The name meanings are a bonus as far as I am concerned. I found out that LEWIS is a Welsh name. Too bad my great grandfather with that name was born in Germany. Ah, the brick wall.

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