Monday, 12 April 2010

Irish Isonymy and English Diaspora

Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne is not one I'd known of until stumbling across an abstract of an article "The Origins of the Irish in Northern England: An Isonymic Analysis of Data from the 1881 Census" in the journal Migrants and Minorities. It's authored by staff of the university history department,

The Irish Isonymy Project examines surnames, forenames and the application of isonymy (names as cultural characteristics) to historical data with emphais on the Irish in nineteenth-century Britain. Read about it at and listen to the podcast by Dr Malcolm Smith on Talkback.

He points out that whereas Patrick was a frequent first name for famine-era Irish migrants to England it was much less frequently chosen as a name for their English-born children.

The same may be true in Canada. A quick check of the Canadian census records on Ancestry shows over 19,000 Patrick's in "Canada" in 1861, stabilizing at over 14,000 to 1901, and dropping to just over 10,000 in 1911. That's a substantial drop in an expanding population.

The English Diaspora Project examines the hidden English diaspora in North America. Although this seems to be ploughing some of the same ground that Dr Murray Watson has worked on while affiliated with the history department at Carleton University, the Northumbria researchers identify key
issues of concern as:

  • English ethnic associationism: examining aspects of English clubs, societies and sociability around the Diaspora.
  • English folk traditions in the Diaspora: locating the popular culture of celebrating particular forms of Englishness.
  • English sporting traditions: examining the export around the world of sports from cricket, rugby and association football to Cumberland wrestling.
  • English literary and dramatic cultures: exploring the cultural transfer of key literary figures around the Diaspora.

1 comment:

EF Herrera Paz said...

In Latin America we have the advantage of carrying two surnames: one inherited bay the father and the second by the mother, though, we can assess FIS.