At last week’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live in among the talks, family history societies, genealogy suppliers and data providers were a delegation from a town council from Surrey that obviously values its history and genealogy.
It would seem that the town of Godalming has launched its own ancestry website at www.godalmingancestry.co.uk and representatives of the town spoke to our writer and handed us a leaflet that interested us so much that we have decided to mention it here.
Perhaps other towns may like to take a leaf from their book and do something similar?
Godalming Ancestry seeks to help you find the right path back to your ancestors, to walk where they walked and see the sights they may have seen. It features a surname check where you can find a selection of common Godhelmian names (our favourite at Family History Social is most definitely: Enticknapp).
If you have Godhelmian ancestry then it is worth a look.
With a records search request form online and a downloadable burial records, this Town Council is to be applauded for drawing together this portal that also links to the Godalming Museum, the Library, parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Surrey History Centre, Exploring Surrey’s Past and the West Surrey Family History Society.
If your surname reveals that your family came over from Normandy, the last time that England was conquered, then even today you are more likely to be upper class than the average member of the population in Britain. Quite astonishingly, the social status of your ancestors has more influence on your life chances than on your height. Normans recorded as property owners in the Domesday book of 1086 are 16 times more likely to be at Oxford or Cambridge in 1170 and still 25% more likely that their ancestors are there today.
Gregory Clark of the University of California, Davis and Neil Cummins from the London School of Economics have published an article in the Journal of Human Nature that shows that social mobility from 1170 to 2012 has always been slow and even now is not much greater than in the pre-industrial period.
An example being the Bunduck family whose name regularly appeared in the registers of the Oxbridge universities consistently from the 12th century until the modern day. The Bunducks were also found on the rich property owners’ database, which is another suggestion that they were of a higher class as is their appearance on the 19th century probate registry.
‘Strong forces of familial culture, social connections, and genetics must connect the generations,’ said Mr Clark.
‘Even more remarkable is the lack of a sign of any decline in status persistence across major institutional changes, such as the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century, the spread of universal schooling in the late nineteenth century, or the rise of the social democratic state in the twentieth century,’ added Mr Cummins.
Source: The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility. Gregory Clark (with Neil Cummins, Yu Hao, and Daniel Diaz Vidal and others), 2014. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Our surnames and how they have developed in Britain is a subject that interests many genealogists. At Family History Social we came across this useful guide to English surnames on About.com
If you’ve always wanted to know a bit more about your surname, this is a handy article. The article covers English surnames as we know them today, passed down through generations, which began in England as early as the 11th century. There’s more on the article available here.
Family History Social will be taking a weekly look at some of the popular books available for family historians which I hope are of interest to you.
This week we’ve taken a look at the ‘Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames’ by John Titford. The book describes itself as ‘the definitive guide to surnames and their meanings’ and is certainly very comprehensive. The author looks at the history of British surnames, regional variations and offers in one section, a humourous take on surnames from various parts of the British Isles.
The book is very meticulous, analysing the history and thought-processes behind the use of surnames. There’s also a section devoted to how genealogists can approach the whole surname issue and its significance in our research. The book also gives a comprehensive list of further sources of research (both offline and online) to discover more about surnames.
Finally, the majority of the book (as per the title) gives an A to Z of surnames and their origin and meaning. The book contains over 10,000 surnames and includes how names have developed and varied over the years. It’s available from S&N Genealogy Supplies priced £14.99. There’s more details on their website.