Saturday, 23 April 2011

Surname finder maps

In this blog I have written a number of times about the origins of our clan name and have maintained, with I think the best 'name historians', that it has Scottish origins, despite its strong Irish links. Clearly discovering the origin of a surname is a great help for genealogical and indeed its associated genetic research. In a recent article in the magazine Your Family Tree Anthony Adolph mentioned a new internet site for mapping the whereabouts of Western surnames, and therefore a start for guessing where they originated, or perhaps a confirmation of a paper trail. It is at Does it agree with the name historians and with the conclusions I have come to about our clan name?

The site uses OnoMap, an academic project developed at University College, London. Consideration of language, religion, geographical region and culture in relation to names has resulted in 185 Categories organised into 66 Subgroups and 16 Groups. So what do these reveal for our clan? I put 'McIlhagga', 'McIlhagger' and 'McIlhaga' in to the site 'search term' box. First a World Map appears and then you can click on a country to get a more detailed map of an Area, like Europe. Then you can click on a Region, e.g. Ireland, to give even more detail. Each map is coloured in six shades to show from high to low density of a name. These maps are of course showing present day usage of a name, not historical usage, so are different from maps produced from historical sources, such as censuses. Tables with statistics and names give the top five Countries, Regions and Cities, and the top five forenames associated with the surname.

Finally under the title 'Roots of this name' you are given 'Group', 'Subgroup' and 'Language'. There is also a question for you to respond to, 'Do you agree? Yes/No'. For McIlhagga we are given, Group: Celtic; Subgroup: Scottish; Language: English. For McIlhagger we have Group: Celtic; Subgroup: Irish; Language: English. For McIlhaga we get the message 'Sorry we don't have any information on the roots of this name'. For McIlhagga and McIlhagger I ticked 'Yes, I agree'.

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