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.
When you've a few minutes to spare please check out my website http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com for details of all the ebooks I've published including the best selling detective novel A Single To Filey by Michael Murray.
I was finding out about cloche hats the other day which were the height of fashion in the 1920s. (See my blogpost Oh I do like to be beside the seaside in a cloche hat.) Originally invented in 1908 by the French milliner and fashion designer Caroline Reboux the cloche hat dominated millinery style during the 1920s and early thirties. The name derived from the French word "cloche" describing the "bell" shape of the basic style.
I was researching the British Newspaper Archive for further information and found that not everyone thought the cloche hat was such a great idea.
These gloomy doctors in Lincolnshire were warning against wearing them during a heat wave:
This manufacturer of umbrellas in Oldham blamed the wearing of cloche hats for the failure of his business:
And the city coroner in Nottingham was convinced that they were the cause of a road accident resulting in a fatality.
When I was a teenager in the 1960s I persuaded my mum to make me a cloche hat from some black fabric with vibrant Mary Quant style pink and yellow flowers on it. It had a slightly frilled brim and I thought I looked sensational. Hmmmmm.
This is one of my favourite family history photographs. You might have seen the image already on my website or Twitter account because I've posted it several times before. Naturally, there are no names, dates or locations written on the back but recently I've been making another attempt to work out who, when and where.
I think these ladies are definitely close relatives to each other and to me. Facially they seem so similar and familiar.
The hats are the biggest clue as to when the photo was taken.
Cloche hats were the fashion throughout most of the nineteen twenties and into the early thirties.
This clipping from the Hartlepool Mail 3rd August 1928 is a good example of the style.
From the late 1920s onwards it was fashionable to wear the cloche hat with the brim turned outwards. All three of the lovely ladies in my photo are wearing their cloches with the brim turned out so I think this is good evidence that they are at the seaside in the late twenties, early thirties.
If you look at the two younger women in the background, their dresses look typical of the nineteen twenties with the dropped waists. And their hairstyles too.
This clipping is from The Bedfordshire Times and Independent 13th March 1925. Looks like you could get everything you needed to be a dedicated follower of fashion at Braggins Store in Bedford.
Could it be my grandmother and her family?
My grandmother (Elsie) had three sisters: Edith, Anne and Beatrice. Edith had died in 1919 in the Spanish Flu pandemic after the First World War and then Anne died in 1926. So, if my deductions are correct that the photo was taken from about 1928 onwards this could be Elsie and Beatrice. The lady on the right looks older so maybe that's their mum, my great grandmother, Eliza Smith.
I've got a photo of Elsie taken about 1925 which I know is definitely her and I've cropped her face with the lady on the left of the paddling photo and I think they could be the same person.
I've also got a photo of Elsie taken about 1950 and I've added that as well and think I can see close similarities. I tested this out on my niece who is keen on family history and she thought they looked like images of the same person too. She also said she thought there was some resemblance to her own mum.
So, maybe the paddling photo is Elsie with her sister Beatrice and her mum, Eliza.
Are they paddling at Blackpool?
From the postcard collection passed on from my grandmother (See Postcards for Miss Smith) I know that the sisters liked to go on seaside holidays to Blackpool, Southport and Douglas in the Isle of Man. For a number of years Beatrice ran a guest house in Blackpool and I can only speculate that her mother and sisters went to stay with her from time to time.
This view of Blackpool was sent to Edith by her mother in October 1915 who wrote on the back:
Just a line to say we are going on nicely. Hope you are all keeping well + that everything is alright. It has been very nice so far. Love to all E.A S.
Whether the paddling photograph is really Elsie, Beatrice and Eliza at Blackpool in 1928 I don't think I will ever know for sure but for now it's my best guess.