I've found a fantastic website where you can learn the frequency with which your surname is used in England based on data from the Office of National Statistics. The data is easily interrogated from the website and I've found out some interesting information about our most immediate surnames.
Our surname, Murray, is shared with 56,316 other people and is ranked 102 in frequency of use.
The top surname, unsurprisingly, is Smith with 652,563 users. Smith was the maiden name of my grandmother, Elsie.
Her husband was Sidney Henry Buckle. There are 5653 Buckles and this surname is ranked as 1401.
My other grandmother, Minnie, was a Barratt; 9692 Barratts and this surname is ranked 799.
Minnie was married to Horace Ashworth; 12057 Ashworths, ranked 614.
Michael's other family surnames are: Josephs, Magnus and Starling.
There are only 807 Josephs' and the surname is ranked 7856.
There are even fewer Magnus': ranked 12,893 there are just 422 users of that surname.
There are a few more Starlings: 3168 users of that surname and ranked 2455.
1. Smith 1st
2. Murray 102nd
3. Ashworth 614th
4. Barratt 799th
5. Buckle 1,401st
6. Starling 2,455th
7. Josephs 7,856th
8. Magnus 12,893th
The website is at http://www.taliesin-arlein.net/names/search.php if you want to check out some of your own family surnames.
There's an interesting article on the Ancestry website which lists one of our surnames, Ashworth, as en route to extinction. It says that there has been a 39% decrease in the prevalence of Ashworth as a surname since 1901. If my family is anything to go by, the prediction might be true as we've only got one Ashworth left in our family. It might be a temporary blip, however, because there doesn't seem much difference between 2002 and 1891.
The 1891 census shows that there were:
So, apart from the Josephs' and the Magnus' changing places there's no difference in the rankings within our family surnames. I would have thought that it was Magnus and Josephs that were more endangered species of surnames than Ashworth.
Michael's mum, Rose Murray, was good friends throughout her life with Frances Magnus, usually known as Fanny. For many years they lived near to each other in Planet Street, Stepney, London. Frances was married to Ernie Stilwell in 1940 and thus ended another strand of the Magnus line. (Ernie is on the left of the second photo below.)
Magnus is a surname that can be found in English, Scottish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, German, and Dutch but it derives from the Scandinavian personal name Magnus. This was borne by Magnus the Good (died 1047), king of Norway, who was named after the Emperor Charlemagne, Latin Carolus Magnus ‘Charles the Great’. The name spread from Norway to the eastern Scandinavian royal houses, and became popular all over Scandinavia and thence in the English Danelaw. It has also been adopted as a Jewish name and it is in Michael's ancestry as a Jewish name.
It's always been said in Michael's family that Magnus was a Portugese Jewish name but I've never found any evidence to support this until the other day.
Grandfather Benjamin Magnus was born in Stepney, East London as were both his parents Barnett Magnus and Phoebe Magnus. Barnett and Phoebe must have been related but I've still not found the jigsaw pieces that explain exactly how. Phoebe was only nineteen when she married Barnett and he was just twenty one. His father was James Magnus and Phoebe's father was Benjamin Magnus.
Benjamin was married to Esther Costa in 1856 at the Hambro Synagogue. Esther was thirty four years old when the marriage took place and her father, Moses Costa, was already dead. I haven't yet managed to find out when he died but there is a record of Esther Costa in the 1841 census.
And, this is the best bit of all: in 1841 Esther was a patient in the Spanish and Portugese Jews Hospital. So, for the first time we have actually got some evidence that what has been passed down as hearsay for years is actually true.
It says on this website that the hospital was originally built in 1748 for the Jews who had fled to England to escape The Inquisition. The hospital re-located onto the same site as the Portugese cemetery in 1790 and the current building was erected in 1912 to accommodate elderly Spanish and Portugese Jewish people. There's some more information here and here.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
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I'm a former primary school head teacher now enjoying family history, e-publishing and gardening. I'm the author of "Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood" and was delighted when the book became an Amazon 2015 bestseller in the Social History category. I'm the founder of Spurwing Ebooks which is at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com for book details and information about new releases and special offers. Details of my books are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/C.-Murray/e/B009R7CRVC and the other books I've published are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Murray/e/B007AQZMZK