Folks are often at a loss for leads when they find a record of their immigrant ancestor and all it says is they were from England, Scotland, Ireland, or occasionally Wales. If the name isn't too common you can start localizing the possible origin with a surname distribution map. At the left, from the Surname Profiler facility at the spatial-literacy web site, is the distributions for the surname Northwood, for the year 1998. I wrote a bit about the Northwood search last summer in a posting Update your searches.
The name has become more widespread in a century, but still has two areas of concentration. You can confirm this my doing the search and displaying a map for 1881. Focussing the search on Bedfordshire and the West Midlands are indicated. My lot are from Staffordshire and can be traced back many generations in the village of Pattingham.
I frequently use surname distribution as a way to interest beginners in family history. Many folks have a name they know little about. In a beginner group you can usually find some who have a suspicion about the region the family came from, and are delighted to see that confirmed with a surname distribution map.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
at 6:30 a.m.