BBC Radio Wales: Welsh Surnames
I recently had an interview with Radio Wales‘ “Good Evening Wales“. Following media interest in the migrations of some Welsh surnames such as “Jones”, BBC Wales wanted a little more information from our own World Names Profiler project. The project’s website allows visitors to type in their own surname and generate a map of it’s global distribution. You can also do an ethnicity search to simply map where Welsh names, for example, occur (see map below).
From the website you can find some interesting facts. For example, you are more likely to meet someone with a Welsh name in Chicago than London, and 6 out of the “top ten” regions with the most Welsh surnames (outside of Wales) occur beyond Europe. One of the most successful migrations (in terms of preserving the Welsh language and culture) was of course to Patagonia and this is shown by Argentina appearing in the top 10 most likely places to find many Welsh Surnames. So, although the main focus of yesterday’s interview was the movements of Welsh surnames within the UK, I think the global migrations we can track using Welsh surnames are far more interesting.
That said, to illustrate a little more the media interest in the Welsh surnames within the UK, I recommend people visit the National Trust Surname Profiler Website (link) that provides historical and contemporary maps of most surname distributions in the UK. The data behind this website have been the focus for much of my research and I have produced some maps related to Welsh names already. I have and included a couple with a little commentary below. If you would like to make your own you can visit the websites I mentioned above (Worldnames, National Trust).
The map above shows the % of the population with a Welsh surname (left) and an English surname (right). Darker brown means higher percentages and lighter colours represent lower percentages. You can see clearly how the more urban Southern Wales and the Welsh border have been infiltrated with English surnames.
I have featured the above map before on this blog. I have rescaled the UK so that the size of the area is proportional to the number of people with the Welsh surname “Lewis” that live there. As you can see from how much larger Wales has become you are still most likely to find the Lewis name in its country of origin.