Top Scottish first names and surnames 1900 and 2000

Interesting piece at ScotlandsPeople about popular names in Scotland. Link is http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/births/popular-names/archive/forenames-1900-2000.html but here are some salient snippets.

The top 10 in 2000 (from 1 to 10) were:
Boys: Jack, Lewis, Ryan, Cameron, James, Andrew, Matthew, Liam, Callum, Jamie
Girls: Chloe, Amy, Lauren, Emma, Rebecca, Megan, Caitlin, Rachel, Erin, Hannah

The top 10 names in 1900 (from 1 to 10) were:
Boys: John, James, William, Robert, Alexander, George, Thomas, David, Andrew, Charles
Girls: Mary, Margaret, Elizabeth, Annie, Jane, Agnes, Isabella, Catherine, Janet, Helen

In 1900, the top five names were given to 50% of boys and 38% of girls. 13.2% of boys were called John and 11.7% of girls were called Mary.

If you have Scottish ancestors I bet you have all the top 10 names from 1900 on your tree. I do, although not many George, David, Andrew and Charles for boys.

Interestingly, James and Andrew are the only names to stay the course, although Jack is a form of John and of course Jamie is a form of James.

Another interesting article at ScotlandsPeople is about Scottish surnames and is at http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/births/popular-names/archive/surnames-in-scotland-over-the-last-140-years.html

The top three surnames in Scotland are Smith, Brown and Wilson, and 1 in 8 surnames begin with Mc or Mac.

Surnames developed slowly and had regional differences. Therefore “similar, or in some cases identical, surnames have been derived from entirely different sources and different areas of Scotland. Thus the modern ‘consistency’ in naming conventions has been based on a possibly ‘inconsistent’ starting point. In other words, to rely on surnames as a guide to family history becomes less reliable the further back in time the researcher goes.” I have long suspected that my Strachan ancestors have nothing to do with the Strachans of Kincardineshire and although the names now share the same spelling, the original derivation is quite probably very different.

Nobles and landowners were the first to acquire surnames and were frequently named after the land they owned. The name was then taken up by others who came from that place. As there were many places sharing the same name, this resulted in the same surname developing in different locations but with no relationship to each other. If people moved, they may well have changed their surname.

The article gives details of frequency of Scottish surnames, plus links to tables which show frequency of surnames in particular regions in 1901. In 1901, Fraser was the 10th most frequent surname in Aberdeenshire: the only other areas it appears in are 1st in Nairn, 2nd in Elgin and Inverness and 10th in Ross & Cromarty. This sort of proves my feeling that my Frasers originated from further north than Cruden. Strachan doesn’t appear on any of the lists, so it’s not that widely a used surname.

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2 responses to “Top Scottish first names and surnames 1900 and 2000

  1. Very interesting. I’ve been conjecturing that my Frasers migrated to Perthshire in the mid-1700s, but I haven’t found evidence for it yet. In the late 1700s and early 1800s they were marrying Stewarts and Campbells, which I see are more popular names for that district.

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