Telegraph (London), March 24, 2009
While Smith and Jones remain Britain’s most popular surnames, new research has found that Asian names such as Zhang, Singh and Patel are rapidly catching up.
A century of immigration has seen the nation’s dictionary of names drastically altered to include a host of foreign ones, the study said.
It found that within the last 100 years, the number of people named Ahmed, Singh and Ali, has increased by more than 1,000 per cent each.
The name Zhang was found to be the fastest growing name, having risen by 4,718 per cent in popularity in just 13 years.
People named Singh and Patel were also found to be at a record high, with 95,203 and 53,295 of them respectively currently living in Britain.
An influx of surnames from the Asian subcontinent, China, and southern Africa–such as Aslam, Kim, Xu, Ndlovu and Ncube–was also noted by the researchers.
The study was carried out partly by Experian, the credit agency, which used its database to find out which names were found most frequently in different parts of the country.
Despite a more mobile population in recent decades, the researchers found that many of the more traditional British surnames were still found clustered in specific parts of the country.
People with surnames ending in “thorpe” and “ing”, which originate from Viking invaders, were still found to be most prevalent along the east coast of England, where they landed hundreds of years ago.
Professor Richard Webber, from King’s College London, who led the research, said: “Surnames are useful indicators of people’s origins.
“It’s not just for people of Indian, Nigerian or Armenian origins, but also for more distant ancestry, including Celtic, Norse and Anglo-Saxon.”
The results of the research can be found at the new website, www.mapyourname.com, which lets people trace where their surnames originate from.
To create the site, researchers examined the names of 360,000,000 people currently alive in the United States, Australia and most of Western Europe.
Top 10 surnames in Britain: