Why family history is so difficult (3)

To recap:

First post in this sequence here

The following line graphs show that decline in the frequency of the top three names was steeper. Prior to the eighteen sixties the top three names in males among Andrew’s Kindred was 50% or more, declining by 1919 to 26%, roughly half. The corresponding decline for females was from 44% to 18%.

top 3 names m line top 3 names f line

This shows why life becomes much more difficult for the family historian when researching ancestry beyond the mid-nineteenth century, especially when censuses and records of birth, marriage and death are no longer available.

AK mf 1820-1839

Using an example from my own ancestry these pie charts show that in males over half were John, William or Thomas and more than half of females were Mary, Sarah, Elizabeth or Ann. When coupled with family names such as Brown, Carter and Evans, which are all relatively frequent, or Dennis / Dennies, which is frequent in the places where my ancestors lived and, it seems, generally in mining communities, discerning one person from another can be difficult.

This pattern was turned upside down by the early twentieth century …

More to come

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