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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2013  /  May 2013  /  Britain's Most Common Surnames

Britain's Most Common Surnames

Wide press coverage

Britain's Most Common Surnames

Dr Muhammad Adnan writes, (Full screen link of the map)

This is the map of the most common surnames around Great Britain. As well as mapping the distribution of surnames from the electoral roll, Twitter account surnames have been included. The map was created as part of the "Uncertainty of Identity" ( project. The aim of this project is to establish a link between the real and virtual world data sources in order to study the identities of individuals.

The idea behind the map was to examine the difference in the distributions of surnames around the Great Britain. We also wanted to see if Electoral Roll and Twitter have different surnames distributions. The map shows some of the common surnames many people have in the country, such as Smith, Jones, Brown and Williams, but also gives an indication of the ethnic mix in the major urban areas, in particular London, Birmingham, and Manchester. Switching to twitter surnames, the map shows many more non-British surname.

To create the map, we analysed 2007 Electoral Roll data to come up with the common surnames in each of the 8920 wards across Great Britain. For the Twitter surnames, we analysed the 'user names' of 32 million geo-tagged tweets downloaded during September 2012 to April 2013 across Britain. Surnames were then mapped to the 8920 wards across Great Britain and coded in different colors according to their origin.

The Electoral Roll data is the perfect reflection of the population in Great Britain. The twitter data, however, is a bit noisy - this is because the uneven adoption rate of Twitter in Great Britain.


The map was published by a number of media outlets:


Snapshot of the map of the most common surnames around Great Britain