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Monday, 30 March 2009

The Changing Names of Britain

An interesting article appeared in the Daily Mirror last Tuesday which tracked the top ten most popular surnames in Britain, and the fastest growing ten between 1996 - 2008. The research was carried out by marketing company Experian.

The top ten are:
1. Smith
2. Jones
3. Williams
4. Brown
5. Taylor
6. Davies
7. Wilson
8. Evans
9. Thomas
10. Johnson

According to the article, 545,707 are called Smith, 418,534 are called Jones and 294,865 are called Williams.

However, the fastest growing ten surnames are most interesting:
1. Zhang
2. Wang
3. Yang
4. Huang
5. Lin
6. Moyo
7. Dube
8. Chen
9. Lu
10. Muhammed

They are almost all Chinese names. I suppose that looking at the time period measured (1996 - 2008), that might have something to do with the handing of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

An interesting perspective on immigration to Britain though - the presence of people called Zhang has risen 4,700% over the last 12 years.

Another perspective is the most popular first names; in 2006 the most popular names given to baby boys were:

The most popular names for baby boys in 2006
1. Jack 6,928,
2. Muhammad (all spellings) 5,991
3. Thomas 5,921
4 Joshua 5,808
5 Oliver 5,208,
6 Harry 5,006
7 James 4,783
8 William 4,327
9 Samuel 4,320
10 Daniel 4,303

Mohammed is included with the 14 most common spelling variants counting as one name. However, it only entered the top 30 in 2000.

The Times reported the above story in 2007, but by 2008 Mohammed was nowhere to be seen on the list of top ten baby names - although it was the most popular name in certain areas, for example Peterborough. Apparently it is the most popular baby boys' name in Brussels, too.

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