Guide to North East Surnames: L

North East Surnames: Laidler to Lumley

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Laidler surname

Northumberland and Durham surname

The Laidler surname was Identified by Henry Guppy as being associated with Northumberland. It was thought by Guppy to be a variation of the Scottish surname Laidlaw which Guppy identified as most numerous in Roxburghshire. In some cases in the past the surname has occurred as Laidlay. The Laidlaw connection is a strong possibility, however, a John le Ladeler is mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls for Yorkshire in 1327 and if this is the origin then the ‘le’ of this surname points to an occupation rather than a location (the Laidlaw surname likely derives from the name of a hill or clearing). If it is an ‘occupational name’ Laidler would seem to mean ‘maker of ladles’.

In 1881 there were 1,208 people called Laidler in the Great Britain census. Laidler was most numerous in County Durham with 565 people of this name and in Northumberland there were 445. There were 40 Laidlers in Yorkshire; 25 in Cumberland; 8 in Lancashire and 26 in Scotland.

Laidlaw a Scottish surname

The surname Laidlaw which Guppy connected with Laidler consisted of 2,663 individuals in the 1881 census of which 2,048 resided in Scotland. The number of Laidlaws in Northern England was as follows: Yorkshire 167; Northumberland 137; Durham 117; Lancashire 109 and Cumberland 46 with others residing across the rest of England. A notable North Easterner of this name is Ray Laidlaw, of the rock band Lindisfarne.

Lamb surname

Widespread surname

The Lamb surname was widespread across England and considered by Henry Guppy to be most numerous in Northumberland and Durham. In 1881 there were 16,242 people called Lamb in the Great Britain census. There were 2,897 in the whole of Scotland; 2,183 in Lancashire; 1,605 in Yorkshire; 1,370 in Durham; 673 in Northumberland; 275 in Cumberland and 122 in Westmorland.

Lambton surname

County Durham surname

The Penshaw Monument
The Penshaw Monument, built in honour of John George Lambton © John A Simpson

Whist ! lads, haad yer gobbs

I’ll tell yer aal an aaful story.

So begins the famous Lambton Worm song, the mythological story of how wyvern-slayer Sir John Lambton defeated the notorious Lambton worm somewhere in the middle of the River Wear in medieval times. John Lambton is one of many famous members of the Lambton family who take their name from Lambton near Chester-le-Street, a place-name meaning Lamb Farm.

A William De Lambton of Lambton features in Bishop Hatfield’s survey of 1377-1380, while the Durham Visitation survey of 1575 includes a Robert Lambton of Lambton and Marmaduke Lambton of Belasis near Billingham. The Lambtons were later to give their name to Lambton Castle, a building of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century origin.

The castle was built around the core of the earlier Harraton Hall and became the seat of the Lambton family after their previous home, Lambton Hall, across the River Wear was demolished in 1797. Nearby Penshaw Hill is often confused with Worm Hill near Washington as the place once frequented by the Lambton Worm, but Penshaw hill is connected with an entirely different Lambton, John George Lambton. This John Lambton was the first Earl of Durham (1792-1840) and was known as ‘Radical Jack’ because of the political reforms he instigated in the nineteenth century.

The famous Penshaw monument built on the top of the hill in 1844 in the style of a Greek temple was erected in memory of the earl, who was once the Governor General of Canada. The earl’s son Charles William Lambton was immortalised in the famous Thomas Lawrence painting The Red Boy. This young Lambton died of consumption aged only thirteen. Many other Lambtons and their relations have achieved great fame and notoriety but Whisht! lads thats aal I knaa aboot this story.

Mayors of Durham have included a John Lambton in 1626 and the Rt. Hon John George Lambton who was mayor in 1899. Mayors of Hartlepool have included a Henry Lambton in 1729, 1741 and 1753; a John Lambton in 1762; a William Henry Lambton in 1794 and Ralph John Lambton in 1800.

MPs for the County of Durham have included Sir William Lambton from 1685, 1701 and 1710 and John George Lambton from 1813. Hedworth Lambton was MP for North Durham in 1832 and Frederick Lambton was MP for the south of the county in 1880. City of Durham MPs have included Henry Lambton from 1734; Major General John Lambton from 1762; William Henry Lambton from 1787 and Ralph John Lambton from 1798.

In the 1881 census there were only 289 people in Great Britain with the surname Lambton (along with a very small number with the spelling variations ‘Lampton’ and ‘Lamton’ outside the North East).

There were 111 people of the name Lambton living in the County of Durham and 31 individuals called Lambton in the county of Northumberland.

In Lancashire there were no Lambtons but there were 16 people of the name Lampton. There was also an individual called Lampton in Cumberland too but there were no Lambtons in that county. In Yorkshire there were 25 Lambtons; 4 Lamptons and 2 Lamtons. In the midlands there were 17 Lamptons and 2 Lamtons. In London and the south east there were 35 Lambtons plus 16 Lamptons. Scotland was home to 3 people called Lambton.

See also the closely connected surname Hedworth.

Laverick surname

Northern surname Yorkshire and Durham

Laverick was listed by Henry Guppy as a surname in the North or East Riding of Yorkshire. It is still a Yorkshire surname associated with the Vales of Mowbray and Tees.

In the 1881 census there were 1,726 Lavericks of which 583 resided in Durham and 536 in Yorkshire. In the other northern counties there were 185 in Northumberland; 37 in Lancashire; 6 in Cumberland and 4 in Westmorland and in Scotland there were 75 people with this name. The remaining Lavericks were spread across the midlands and south east.

A Laverick was an old name for a skylark, so this surname is a nickname, perhaps for a good singer or one who tended to rise early.

Lawson surname

Northern England and Scotland surname

A name belonging to Scotland and Northern England. A Henry Laweson is mentioned in the poll tax returns for Yorkshire in 1379 and the name means ‘son of Law’, a shortened form of Lawrence.  In Bishop Hatfield’s Survey of Durham 1377-80 Lawsons included John Lawson at Coundon; Robert Lawson (Evenwood); Roger Lawson (Ryton); William Lawson (Waldridge) and Richard Lawson at Lanchester.

A James Lawson was mayor of Newcastle in 1529 and 1540. The 1575 Visitation of Durham includes Rowland Lawson of Gateshead and Thomas Lawson of Usworth. North of the Tyne Lawsons were associated with Cramlington where they are featured in the Visitation of Northumberland in 1617.

Some Lawsons in Durham were associated with the former nunnery site of Neasham Abbey near Darlington. The last prioress of the abbey was a Lawson and her family inherited the land here following the Dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII.

Neasham © David Simpson

There were 19,070 Lawsons in the 1881 census of which more than a quarter (5,931) resided in Scotland and more than a third in the northern counties of England. In the northern counties of England the number of Lawsons were 2,696 in Yorkshire; 2,307 in Lancashire; 1,895 in Durham; 747 in Northumberland; 530 in Cumberland and 44 in Westmorland. The remainder were spread across England with 101 in Wales.

Leckenby and Lackenby surnames

Durham and Yorkshire surnames

A North East and North Yorkshire name, probably from Lackenby near Redcar, which is a Viking place-name. The surname is listed as a Guppy surname in the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire. The surname (or surnames) occur in the forms Lackenby and Leckenby (or Leckonby).

In the 1881 census Lackenby was more prominent in Durham and Leckenby most prominent in Yorkshire. There were 223 Lackenbys in the census and 248 individuals called Leckenby/Leckonby

The figures by county for the Lackenby surname were as follows: Durham 127; Northumberland 57; Yorkshire 30; Lancashire 4 with small numbers elsewhere.

The figures by county for the Leckenby (or Leckonby) surname were: Yorkshire 180; Durham 27; Lancashire 9; Cumberland 1; with another 15 spread across the midlands; 7 in the south west; 0 in Scotland but none in Northumberland, Westmorland or Wales.

Lee surname

Widespread name in England

Lee is a surname that is widespread across England. Northumberland and Durham are recognised as one of the focal points for this surname, though it can sometimes be a gypsy surname. A noted Lee was the miners’ leader Peter Lee after whom the County Durham town of Peterlee is named. Lee or ‘ley’ / lea in place-names usually signifies a clearing of some kind. A Richard Lee was mayor of Durham in 1658 and a Walter Lee was mayor in 1919 and 1924.

A surname De La Ley (of the ley) occurs in the North East in medieval times and Witton Gilbert and Tanfield Lea are both said to be named from a Gilbert de La Ley (1154-1197). One of his sons, John De la Ley resided at Le Pavyllon – ‘the pavillion’ – now Pallion in Sunderland.

There were 49,063 people called Lee in the 1881 census and it is fairly widespread everywhere. There were 1,185 in Scotland and 1,010 in Wales. In the northern counties Yorkshire was home to 8,119; Lancashire 7,527; Durham 1699; Northumberland 1,055; Cumberland 277 and Westmorland with 54 and significant proportions were spread across the counties and regions in England.

In the 1881 census Lee was the 31st most numerous surname in Yorkshire and 43rd most numerous surname in County Durham. It was 43rd in Lancashire and Cheshire too but did not make the top fifty names in Northumberland, Cumberland or Westmorland.

The similar surname, Leigh (of which there were 6,932 in the 1881 census) had a particular prominence in Lancashire where there were 2,918 individuals and there were 1,193 of this name in the neighbouring county of Cheshire. Leigh was of no real significance in the other northern counties: Yorkshire 236; Durham 31; Cumberland 4; Northumberland 3; Westmorland 1 and there were 39 in Scotland. The remaining Leighs were spread across England with only 142 in Wales. The Leigh version of the name probably derives from the place called Leigh to the west of Manchester.

Liddell surname

Border Reiver surname mostly a Scottish surname

Primarily a Scottish name but found in England and especially in the North East. Liddell means valley of the loud water and is the name of the river in Liddesdale, a border valley formed by the Liddel Water in the Scottish borders. The surname which may derive from this location is also associated with the North East where one branch of the Liddell family were Lords of Ravensworth near Gateshead. Ravensworth was the site of the Liddell family seat called Ravensworth Castle, which was demolished in 1953, due to mining subsidence.

Ravensworth Castle
Ravensworth Castle (demolished in 1932) once dominated  the Team valley

The Liddells were one of the big coal owning families known as the ‘Grand Allies’ who dominated North Eastern coal mining in the eighteenth century. Other Grand Allies were the Brandlings of Gosforth, and the Bowes family.

A later Victorian coal owner called Thomas Liddell built Ravensworth Castle on the site of a hall first built by his ancestor Colonel Liddell in 1724. Perhaps the most famous Liddell of all was Alice Liddell, whose great grandmother lived in the South Bailey in Durham City. Little Alice’s family were friends of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who immortalised the young girl under his pen name Lewis Carroll as ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The surname Liddell also occurs in the forms Liddel and Liddle.

A Thomas Liddell was mayor of Newcastle in 1572  and also the Sheriff of Newcastle in 1563-64. His son, another Thomas, also held both these positions being mayor in 1597 and 1609 and Sheriff in 1592-93. The son of this Thomas, yet another Thomas was mayor in 1625 and 1636. A Sir Henry Liddell was mayor of Hartlepool in 1739 and a Sir Henry George Liddell mayor of Hartlepool in 1785.

Members of Parliament have included Thomas Liddel, the MP for Newcastle from 1640 and Sir Henry Liddel who was MP for the town in 1700. Henry Liddell was MP for the City of Durham from 1689 and from 1695 and Sir Thomas Liddell, the County of Durham’s MP from 1806. A Henry Liddell was MP for Northumberland from 1826; MP for North Durham from 1837 and MP for southern Northumberland from 1852.

In 1881 there were 2,753 people called Liddell in the Great Britain census with 1,327 of these residing in Scotland. In northern England Durham was home to 561 individuals; Northumberland 278; Yorkshire 108; Lancashire 106; Cumberland 34 and Westmorland 1. The rest resided mostly in London and the south east.

Some of the ancestors of Catherine (Kate) Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge were County Durham coal miners by the name of Liddell. Click on the image below to see the family tree of the Duchess and its North East connections.

Harrison family tree Kate Middleton
Harrison and Liddell family tree Kate Middleton

CLICK on above image (then zoom in) to see family tree © David Simpson

Liddle surname

Northumberland and Durham surname

This surname variant of Liddell was more numerous in the 1881 census than Liddell with 3,558 individuals and also had a very definite North East England focus. There were 976 people with the name Liddle in Scotland, however County Durham was home to 1,146 people of this name. In the other northern counties there were 426 in Northumberland; 297 in Yorkshire; 138 in Lancashire; 95 in Cumberland and 22 in Westmorland. Of the remaining Liddles, the vast majority were found in London and the neighbouring counties of the south and south east.

Lilburne surname

Northumberland name with a Sunderland connection

The surname Lilburn or Lilburne (and occasionally Lilbourne) originates from the place called Lilburn in northern Northumberland. The surname also occurs in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The family of John Lilburne, leader of the Levellers and a noted seventeenth century religious and political reformer, resided in Sunderland where they were influential merchants. Lilburne’s family were in fact of Old Thickley near Shildon (where they were listed in Bishop Hatfield’s survey of 1377-80) but they were ultimately of Northumberland lineage.

Houghton Almshouse
Almshouse of 1688 at Houghton-le-Spring, founded by George Lilburne of Sunderland © David Simpson

In 1415 A Richard De Lilburn is recorded as the owner of Detchant Tower near Belford and a Thomas Lilburn was the owner of Shawdon Tower (its site now Shawdon Hall near Powburn).

A Thomas Lilborn was the MP for Northumberland in 1434. Robert Lilburne and George Lilburne were MPs for the County of Durham in 1654, a Thomas Lilburne was MP for the county from 1656 and for Newcastle upon Tyne from 1659.

There were only 255 people with this name (including its variants) in the 1881 census. Some 70 of these resided in Scotland. In the North of England there were 64 in Northumberland; 13 in Durham; 7 in Yorkshire and 5 in Lancashire with others spread thinly across England.

Lisle surname

Durham and Northumberland surname

In the1881 census there were 750 people of this name in Great Britain where it was most numerous in Northumberland with 226 individuals. Northumberland was followed by Yorkshire and Durham with 99 and 90 Lisles respectively. There were 40 of the name Lisle in Lancashire; 5 in Cumberland; 1 in Westmorland; 14 in Cheshire; 29 in Scotland and the rest spread across other parts of England mostly in the south east.

The name derives from L’Isle meaning ‘of the isle’ or ‘of the island’ and it has a long association with County Durham. There was a Bishop of Durham (1274-1283) of the name Robert de Insula (meaning ‘of the island’) but he is not thought to be connected with this family. Bishop Robert was referred to by the Monks of Waverley as Robert of Halieeland (Holy Island) and by the monks of Lannercost as Robert Coquind suggesting connections with Lindisfarne or Coquet Island.

However, the Durham family name seems to be derived from an island of a different kind. Early L’Isles in Durham (also known as de Insula) were from ‘The Isle’ near Bradbury in the Sedgefield area which is formed by the River Skerne, Rushyford Beck and other streams in this historically poorly-drained level-lying land. Bradbury and ‘The Isle’ later passed to the De La Pole family and descendants of the L’Isles came to be connected with Redmarshall and Wynyard.

The connection between the Durham Lisles and Northumberland Lisles (if any) is not clear but Lisles were connected with Northumberland from the late twelfth century notably at Woodburn in Redesdale. A Sir Robert Lisle of Woodburn was the MP for Northumberland in 1397, 1404, 1406, 1414 and 1416. Later Lisles in Northumberland were associated with Felton.

Little surname

Border Reiver family surname

Found especially in the Carlisle and Dumfriesshire areas, there were 14,646 people with the name Little in the 1881 Great Britain census with 2,969 residing in Scotland. In Cumberland there were 2,011 people called Little; 1,284 in Lancashire; 743 in Durham; 700 in Yorkshire; 687 in Northumberland and 59 in Westmorland. Others were spread across England (and 132 in Wales) with the usual concentration in London and the south east.

Little was the 11th most numerous surname in Cumberland in 1881 but the surname did not make it into the top fifty names for any of the other northern counties of England.

Early occurrences of a medieval name ‘Lyttel’ are recorded in the south of England. Given its distribution it is tempting to associate the name with Liddel.

Littlefair surname
County Durham surname

The Littlefairs are firmly concentrated in County Durham and focused there for centuries, though significant smaller branches could also later be found in Yorkshire, Northumberland and Lancashire all of which seem to have branched off from an original Durham population. In the seventeenth century the name crops up in Nottinghamshire with two Sheriffs of Nottingham of this name.

In the 1500s Littlefairs seem to have been focused in the Gateshead, Bishopwearmouth and Durham City areas but most, if not all Littlefairs living today can be traced back to Cockfield village between Teesdale and Weardale in the 1600s.

Littlefairs can also be found in earlier medieval records, mostly relating to County Durham. An exception is a mention of a law merchant court case of 1316 involving an Agnes Littlefair and Isolde Clairvaux in relation to a covenant made in the town of Lynn. This is Kings Lynn, in Norfolk, then arguably England’s most important port.

The Littlefair name seems to have been connected with Wolviston, near Billingham in south east Durham in the fourteenth century. In 1367 a William Littlefair was appointed as an official beer taster for the manor of Wolviston and a Cecily Littlefair is mentioned there in 1378. The name again appears in the Durham Cathedral Priory Rentals of 1396-7 at Wolviston and in 1578 a Thomas Littlefair is  parish clerk of Kelloe. The surname has sometimes been interpreted to mean ‘little companion’ but its meaning is uncertain.

There were 446 people called Littlefair in the 1881 census of which 196 resided in Durham; 89 in Lancashire; 59 in Yorkshire; 48 in Northumberland and 28 in Westmorland. There were 13 Littlefairs in Scotland; 1 in Cumberland and 1 in south west England and there were 11 in the London area, where the spelling seems to have been ‘Littlefere’.

* Littlefair is a surname of particular personal interest. See our more detailed Littlefair page with extensive notes on the history of this surname.

Longstaff surname

Durham and Yorkshire name

Longstaff (sometimes with an ‘e’) was described by Henry Guppy as a Darlington surname ‘since the reign of King James I’. A William Hylton Dyer Longstaffe (with the ‘e’) wrote The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Darlington in 1854.

Historic view of Darlington showing the Skerne and St. Cuthbert's church
Historic view of Darlington showing the Skerne and St. Cuthbert’s church from Longstaffe’s History of Darlington

There were 2,322 people called Longstaff in the 1881 census predominantly found in County Durham (954) and Yorkshire (478). In Northumberland there were 193 people with this name. There were 97 in Lancashire; 40 in Cumberland and 92 in Westmorland. The others were spread thinly across the rest of England with a small concentration in London and the south east. There were only 14 Longstaffs in Scotland. The name is thought to be a nickname for a bailiff or officer of the law who carried such a staff.

Lowes surname

Durham and Northumberland surname

For Henry Guppy, the surname Lowe (without the ‘s’) was primarily associated with the midlands and adjoining north west counties, notably Cheshire and Derbyshire. However, Lowes is the form in Northumberland and Durham with Lowish in the East and North Riding of Yorkshire. The name comes from an Anglo-Saxon word ‘hlau’ – a hill or burial mound in North East place-names this word usually occurs as ‘law’. A ‘low’ is also a term for a stream, as several coastal streams in the area of Northumberland near Holy Island are called ‘lows’.

In the 1881 census there were 1,741 people called Lowes with 787 living in Durham and 434 in Northumberland. In the other northern counties there were 116 people called Lowes in Cumberland; 77 in Yorkshire and 67 in Lancashire. Only 10 people called Lowes were living in Scotland. The remaining Lowes were spread across England particularly in London and the south east.

Lowther surname

Border Reiver family surname

Seems to be associated with the northern parts of North Yorkshire  but with an important presence in the North East and Cumbria. There were 1,832 Lowthers in the 1881 census of which 507 were in Yorkshire; 286 in Durham; 273 in Lancashire; 198 in Cumberland; 75 in Northumberland; Westmorland 11. The remaining individuals were spread across England and mostly in London and the south east.

The surname derives from a place called Lowther to the south of Penrith in what was the historic county of Westmorland. Lowther is situated on a river, also called Lowther, which is an ancient British river name.

Lumley surname

Durham and Yorkshire surname

Lumley is especially associated with Durham and Yorkshire and is a County Durham surname by origin, originating from Lumley near Chester-le-Street. The name of this place and its famous castle may mean ‘the clearing belonging to the ember-goose’ or the ‘clearing near the pools’.

The first member of the Lumley family is sometimes said to have been Liulf (perhaps Liulf de Lumley), a popular Saxon noble who was a friend of the first Prince Bishop of Durham called William Walcher. We should note that Liulf has also been linked to the Bulmers. Liulf complained to the Bishop about the activities of the bishop’s retainers Leofwin and Gilbert who sought revenge on Liulf by murdering him and his family as they slept in their beds at Lumley.

Lumley Castle
Lumley Castle

The murder angered the natives of Northumbria, so the Bishop called a meeting at Gateshead in order to make peace. He tried hard to make amends but an angry mob assembled which sallied forth with cries of ‘Good rede, short rede, slea ye the bishop’. The Bishop was bludgeoned to death.

Later members of the Lumley family continued their association with Chester-le-Street, but one branch of the family became the Earls of Scarborough and were important landowners in the Hartlepool area.

One member of The Lumley family, a John, Lord Lumley was very keen to preserve his family heritage and in 1594 removed two effigies from Durham Cathedral which he mistakenly believed to be his ancestors and placed them in Chester-le- Street church along with twelve other effigies. The majority of the effigies were Elizabethan fakes, but Lumley claimed them all as his ancestors, the first one he labelled as Liulf, the murdered noble.

Lumley Castle
Lumley Castle © John Simpson

The fourteen effigies laid head to toe would not fit into the church so Lumley had to chop the legs off some of them to fit them in.

In the 1881 census Yorkshire was home to 590 Lumleys; Durham 417; Lancashire 127; Northumberland 59 and Cumberland 12; There were 22 in Scotland; 22 in south west England and 87 in Wales. Just over 600 Lumleys were spread across the rest of England particularly in the south east.

The eventful history of the Lumley family is covered on our Lumley page.

Lumsden surname

Primarily a Scottish name

A Berwickshire (Scotland) surname by origin notably associated with Coldingham in the fourteenth century. The surname seems to date back to the 12th century and derives from the manor of Lumsdene in Berwickshire which was one of the estates belonging to the Priory of Coldingham

As well as Berwickshire, the surname is found in Scotland around Dundee and north of Aberdeen. It is mostly Scottish but in England its biggest presence was in the North East. Lumsden was listed as a Northumberland surname by Henry Guppy.

In 1881 there were 1,856 Lumsdens in Scotland; 373 in County Durham; 317 in Northumberland; 49 in Yorkshire; 34 in Lancashire; 23 in Cumberland and 4 in Westmorland with 324 spread across the rest of England (mostly in the south east) and 2 in Wales.

North East Surnames beginning with:

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Historic counties of Great Britain and Ireland
Historic counties of Great Britain and Ireland showing the six northern counties of England © David Simpson and England’s North East 2021
Note on the populations of English counties in 1881

When comparing figures for individual numbers of a surname in 1881 it is important to be aware of the actual population of each of the Northern English counties. As you can see from the figures below, 500 individuals with a particular surname in Westmorland would be proportionally much more significant than 500 people of the same surname residing in Lancashire. You might well describe such a surname as a ‘Westmorland name’ but the numbers would not be significant enough to describe it as a ‘Lancashire surname’, at least not as defined by the 1881 distribution. The 1881 northern county populations were as follows:

  • Northumberland: Population 434,658. The county included Newcastle upon Tyne, Wallsend, North Shields, Tynemouth and Whitley Bay and a mining district in the south east of the county including the port of Blyth. As well as indigenous Northumbrian surnames, ‘Border names’ are often abundant in this county, occasionally taking on a form that is distinct from similar Scottish surnames.
  • Durham: Population 869,130. The county included Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields, Jarrow, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool. Numerous small mining towns and villages lie across the county between these major centres of population and like the industrial centres were often the home to surnames that originated in Northumberland and North Yorkshire as well as home-grown in County Durham.
  • Yorkshire: Population 2,895,049. This county included the iron town of Middlesbrough on the south bank of the River Tees in the north east corner of the county as well as ‘West Riding’ towns like Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Halifax, York, Huddersfield to the south. Most of the population of Yorkshire was and still is focused upon the urban and industrialised south west of the county where there is a close relationship in terms of surnames with neighbouring Lancashire across the Pennines. The far south of the county around Sheffield is also very populous. The rural East Riding along with the city of Hull may have a close relationship with neighbouring Lincolnshire. From a North East point of view many of the surnames we describe as ‘Durham and Yorkshire’ are almost always specifically focused upon North Yorkshire and south Durham, though often stretching across the whole of Durham in distribution.
  • Cumberland: Population 251,520. The main centres in this county included Carlisle and the industrial coastal towns of Whitehaven and Workington. As in Northumberland, ‘Border surnames’ have a strong influence here, often originating from or stretching into Scottish counties of the western borders, notably Dumfriesshire.
  • Westmorland: Population 64,204. This was a relatively small and rural county in terms of population. Characterised by small market towns and farming villages, it has its own distinct surname distribution. Along with Cumberland it is now part of Cumbria.
  • Lancashire: Population 3,466,597. This highly populated county included Liverpool and Manchester as well as major towns such as Bolton; Preston; Burnley; Oldham, Rochdale and a number of mill towns. The historic county also stretched into the south Lakeland area in what is now (along with Cumberland and Westmorland) part of Cumbria. The industries of Lancashire were a great draw for immigration from Scotland; Ireland and Wales, particularly in the nineteenth century.
  • Cheshire: We occasionally include details of surname distribution in Cheshire (its population in 1881 was 644,895) where relevant, though surnames in Cheshire and indeed Lancashire and to some extent West Yorkshire often take on a distinctly different character and pattern of distribution to surnames in the other northern counties. Welsh surnames are also quite significant in Cheshire given its location on the Welsh Border. In fact some suburbs of the city of Chester are located within Wales.
  • Counties of the Midlands and South: In addition to the six northernmost counties plus Cheshire, there were a further 32 other counties in England as follows: Bedfordshire; Berkshire; Buckinghamshire; Cambridgeshire; Cornwall; Derbyshire; Devon; Dorset; Essex; Gloucestershire; Hampshire; Hertfordshire; Hertfordshire; Huntingdonshire; Kent; Leicestershire; Lincolnshire; London (Middlesex); Norfolk; Northamptonshire; Nottinghamshire; Oxfordshire; Rutland; Shropshire; Somerset; Staffordshire; Suffolk; Surrey; Sussex; Warwickshire; Wiltshire and Worcestershire.
  • The South East: Of these other English counties, London and some of its neighbouring counties were particularly populous as of course they still are. There were just short of 3 million people in Middlesex (London) and additionally in Surrey there were 1.4 million people. In Essex there were more than half a million people and the population in Kent (996,770) was just short of a million. Such a populous region as the South East often inevitably includes Northern surnames that have gravitated southward but rarely do these surnames have any proportional significance within the population of the South East.
  • Scotland: The total population of Scotland in 1881 was 3.4 million, focused primarily on the central lowland belt stretching from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
  • Wales: The total population of Wales in 1881 was just over 1.5 million and focused upon Cardiff, Swansea and the industrial mining valleys of the south.

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Introduction to North East surnames

Border Reivers

Guppy’s surnames

North East Notable People


Border Reiver Surnames of the Anglo-Scottish Border. Poster Print.


North East England History and Culture