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The Surname Detective: Investigating Surname Distribution in England Since 1086 [Hardcover]

Colin D. Rogers
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

13 July 1995 0719040477 978-0719040474
From the author of "Family Tree Detective", this guide provides the amateur genealogist or family historian with the skills to research the distribution and history of a surname. Colin Rogers uses a sample of 100 names, many of them common, to follow the migration of people through the centuries. Each of the 100 names is mapped since the Doomsday book in 1086. For those whose name is not among the sample, the book shows how to find out where namesakes live now, how they moved around the country through time, and how the name originated from a placename, a nickname or an occupation. Colin Rogers finishes this work by showing how the distribution of surnames can be studied irrespective of the size of the surrounding population, and reaches some interesting conclusions about which names are more reliable guides to migration since the 14th century.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press (13 July 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719040477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719040474
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,836,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surname detective 18 May 2010
The book is interesting in the premise in which it is based. It is somewhat dated now and could do with a revised version being published to get it more up to date. Other than that the content is useful as long as the date the book was written is taken into account.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great topic - bad book. 21 July 2000
By Mark Howells - Published on
It's a very cold day in Hades indeed when I give a negative review to genealogy book - particularly one on English genealogy. However, this book was simply terrible.
The premise - that interesting insights into surname distributions and migration patterns in England may be determined by reviewing and then comparing different sorts of record types which include surnames - is a fascinating one.
Unfortunately, the author approaches the subject in a chatty, "let's ask the questions and find the answers together" fashion which is almost completely unreadable. This "shared voyage of discovery" methodology makes reading this book a bore. I say this having read several hundred genealogy books, so it's not the subject matter I refer to as boring - it's the writing style.
Another problem with the book is that it is written in "British English" complete with colloqialisms and inside-jokes which were off-putting even to an unreformed Anglophile such as myself.
Besides stylistic issues, this volume does not examine the source materials used for its study with anything approaching enough criticality. Using telephone directory discs for modern surname distributions is a great idea except for all the ex-directory people, the multiple telephones per household slowly becoming more common, and the inherent errors in any phone book.
For the next historic period of surname distribution, the author's review of the Victorian censuses reads like a schoolboy's essay. The problems of thorough coverage regarding the censuses are legion yet they are brushed aside by the author.
This book is a tough read and its premise is not particularly well argued. If you're an English surnames junkie, you'll want to give it a go (tidbits like Fuller, Tucker, and Walker all being regional variations of the same occupation are nice little gems) but as a general genealogy work for hunting English ancestors, this book is to be avoided.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Geneological Help 30 Mar 2000
By Nancy Strickland - Published on
This is a first for me with writing a review but since I have gotten involved with putting the family history in book form. I have needed many extra reseach books. The Surname Detective is just what it claims. It give family names and traces the movement into different parts of the original country and immigrations of the families. The maps are helpful to me. I do think it is over priced because it is not an everyday working or reading volume and it is generic. But if you are wondering about your family name and can afford it, I always recomend factual data.
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