Many things can become endangered or eventually extinct. Many species of animals from the dinosaurs (from over 100 million years ago) to a specific type of lizard today can decrease in numbers so they no longer exist. However, did it occur to you that family surnames could also become extinct?
If a family name has approximately less than 200 people everywhere with that name it is on the endangered list. This happens when not enough males have male children to carry on the name. It can also happen by changing the spelling of a surname over the decades so that the original family name is not the same.
There is a list of names that are extinct. It includes Bread, Spinster, Chips, Rummage, Pussett, Temples, Wellbelove, Hatman and Bytheseashore. Know anyone with those names – hardly.
Other names with just a few individuals include Fernsby, Rushlands, Berrycloth, Dankworth, Birdwhistle, Relish and Tumbler. These names are quickly becoming quite rare.
The only method some people are helping preserve a family name is by hyphenating a surname. Joining a family name with another older surname, especially for females does help keep the name going.
Now some nearly extinct surnames can be found in specific regions more than others. For example a name may have become extinct in England but only endangered in Australia, still have strong numbers in the Republic of South Africa.
Check through the listing of surnames in your family, especially those from the 1700s and 1800s. Are there still descendants with that name? If you locate a name or two that appears to be deceasing, try to locate others with that name, even if they are not related. Share information and learn as much on that name as possible. The lost of a family name is serious and one aspect of the family research overlooked.
Check out the FamilyTree.com Index of Surnames
Related FamilyTree.com genealogy blogs:
< Return To Blog