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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Names and Family History
This is a fantastic source book well written and informative. I found out a lot about my family surname/s which has inspired me to take my research further. A great casual read about population distribution, origin and derivation of names.
Published on 15 Mar 2008 by EastAnglian

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars family names and family history
I can see it being of interest for people whose names appear in this book. But in my case our name does not appear therefore it was of no real value to me
Published on 29 Jan 2009 by Mr. Derek Huthwaite


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Names and Family History, 15 Mar 2008
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This review is from: Family Names and Family History (Hardcover)
This is a fantastic source book well written and informative. I found out a lot about my family surname/s which has inspired me to take my research further. A great casual read about population distribution, origin and derivation of names.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surname research overview., 10 Nov 2009
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Bryony White (Nottingham,UK.) - See all my reviews
In researching my family history I have had to work across many parts of the UK. I found this readable book to be a good general introduction to the state of research in the area of surname research, of which I had no previous knowledge. Although it did not mention any of my family names, it has provided me with enough information to take my own enquiries further in this area. If your own research is centred in the Ridings of Yorkshire, I should imagine that it would be of great use. Family History and Local History in England
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's (Almost) All in the Name, 7 Oct 2013
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Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Family Names and Family History (Hardcover)
This is a review of the original 2000 edition. There are ten chapters arranged in three parts. There are also eight monochrome plates but none of these really add anything to the author's arguments. They just comprise pictures of famous people with a explanations of their surnames.

In his preface, Hey perhaps states the obvious when he notes how "Names can tell us a lot about the history of the peoples of our islands, about how they moved around or how they stayed rooted in a particular district. They also have much to teach us about the social structure of medieval and later England." But Hey also refers the reader to new research that has dramatically overturned some previous assumptions, research undertaken by a new generation of philologists and by the growing numbers of local and family historians.

In part one of his book, Hey provides an introduction to the history and study of surnames, taking examples drawn from his own work in and around Sheffield. (Much of the book contains summaries of Hey's and his colleagues' work at the University of Sheffield.) He informs us that surnames properly commenced with the Normans who used the place-names of their origins across the English Channel to distinguish themselves. But if it was the Normans who started the ball rolling, most names that came to be used as surnames were Anglo-Saxon in origin. Hey looks at the five standard types of surname: patronymic/personal, nicknames, occupational, and topographic, breaking down this last between actual geographic locations (e.g., London, Snowden, Avon) and mere topographical features (e.g., hill, brook, well).

The author then goes on to describe how surnames evolved in subsequent centuries, some surprisingly so. The choice of forenames is covered, as is the late arrival of surnames in Wales, where patronymics held greater sway than in England. The names of immigrants into Britain during the Early Modern period are also discussed.

The final chapter in this first part looks at changes in distribution patterns. Hey writes, "The apparent conflict between [on the one hand] the findings of historical demographers [whose evidence points to continual geographical flexibility of ancestors] ... and [on the other hand] the evidence of distinctive family names that were so often restricted in their distribution to recognisable neighbours has turned out to be unreal." Hey has long been an advocate of family names remaining geographically stable and persistent. He concludes that, "At the end of the twentieth century a person's surname can still be a badge of identity, as clear an indication of the family's place of origin as his or her way of speaking."

That's as may be, but I have ancestors that come from the Kentish Weald to the hills of mid-Wales, and from rural South Yorkshire to the tin mines of west Cornwall, and seven counties inbetween. This is indicative of at least some geographical flexibility. True, some of my ancestral families persisted generation after generation in the same place; but others continued to move between parishes almost every generation. And some of the evidence for surname stability that Hey invokes can, from a different angle, be used as evidence for surname change.

Part one covers well over half the book. Part two sees Hey use various sources to trace names back in time. (It is somewhat dated in that straightaway he refers to telephone directories published by BT and Mercury, and there is no reference to internet websites that have sprung up in the meantime that have analysed surname distribution.) Hey uses his research to trace the geographical distribution of a number of names, using telephone directories, electoral registers, census returns, and the registers of births, marriages, and deaths. For the seventeenth century and earlier, he sues the hearth tax returns as his starting point.

Part three is the shortest part of all and provides advice on tracing your own names. He provides suggested steps to take, but there is now much more available online since this book was published. Hey also provides a concise explanation for fifty common surnames and there are distribution maps of twenty other names, these maps amply demonstrating how some names are indeed clearly geographically constrained.

This is a fascinating book, well-written, and of much use even if written on the cusp of the explosion in genealogical information online.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book by a master on family history, 20 Dec 2010
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This review is from: Family Names and Family History (Hardcover)
Have been looking for this book for a while now,Really enjoyed reading it and it was a great help in researching my family history.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars family names and family history, 29 Jan 2009
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Mr. Derek Huthwaite (kent uk) - See all my reviews
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I can see it being of interest for people whose names appear in this book. But in my case our name does not appear therefore it was of no real value to me
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Family Names and Family History by David Hey (Hardcover - 1 Nov 2000)
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