Interest in the statistical aspects of surnames centres on the following three aspects:

  • The names themselves The emphasis is on the individual name, and on counting actual numbers of an individual name by area and time and determining the incidence. Members of the Guild of One-Name Studies have collected data on rarer names. There is still much research to conduct on the incidence of leading surnames.
  • Surname profiling Actual names themselves are immaterial. What is being determined is how many occurrences there are of names appearing once, twice, thrice and so on. From this, comes an estimate of the average number of names per unit, and therefore (perhaps) the size of the surname stock. However, this whole area is fraught with difficulties: the problem of how to determine a representative sample when the pool of surnames is far from homogenous, the problem of determining what the minimum size of the sample should be... Trevor Ogden, a leading researcher in this field, takes us further into this topic.
  • Local history of surnames The marriage of quantitative/qualitative techniques through a case study of Portsmouth surnames in 1900.

Background official and other statistics for use with the mentioned methods can be found in the Guide to Official Statistics and Ancillary Themes Subsections.

Further Subsections follow on the most common British surnames and the statistics of Forenames.

Initially I hoped that someone else far more experienced would produce such a website to help a beginner like myself. Hopefully that will eventually happen. In the meantime, I have collated various statistical methods useful for one-name studies, from a variety of sources. I trust that others will advise on their strengths and weaknesses. As they say, it has been an educative experience.

Last revised: October 08, 2000.