Map shows the British surnames at risk of being wiped out – from Osborn to Pickles | UK | News

Rare surnames are dropping out of national records at an “alarming” rate with some down to just a few hundred, research has shown.

While the top 10 surnames in England and Wales have been “relatively” stable for the past 170 years, others are in danger of becoming extinct.

That’s according to online genealogy service Find My Past which trawled through the England and Wales Births 1837-2006 Index to reach its findings.

Surnames becoming rarer include William, Morgans, Haworth, Pickles and Lawrance, according to the website, which hosts billions of searchable records.

Thorp, Osborn and Mathews might also drop out of the records as surnames altogether by the end of the next few decades, Find My Past found.

It said the use of William as a surname peaked in about 1890, when there were around 1,200 births, but as of 2006 only some 25 people were born with that name.

Morgans has also declined, with about 400 people given the surname at birth in the 1890s, dropping to around 50 in England and Wales by 2006.

The popularity of the surname Pickles reached a peak between 1860 and 1920, according to Find My Past, which said barely 75 people were born Pickles by 2006.

Surnames can fall out of the records, but a rare few have been known to reappear. David and Kelley saw numbers fall between 1900 and 1960, but rose again in the 1970s. Kelley dropped off again, but David is said to be still “on the up”.

The most common surnames according to the survey include three consistently in the top three: Smith, Jones and Williams.

Others in the top 10 include Taylor, Brown, Davies, Evans, Thomas, Ali and Johnson. Meanwhile, Kelly, Murphy, Stewart and Campbell have seen a resurgence with births recorded with those names seeing a “drastic incline”.

Surnames in England weren’t widely used until the Norman Conquest in 1066, with a rising population leading to the need to distinguish between people more, according to

Initially, some surnames changed over time, or when an individual changed their job. A John Baker could become a John Butcher, for example.

When parish registers were introduced in 1538, the idea of surnames being passed down a family line became more established, though it was still common for someone to be baptised with one surname, married under another and buried with a third, according to

It says nowadays there are some 45,000 different English surnames drawn from sources including trades, places and nicknames.

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