Guide to North East Surnames: T

Surnames: Tait to Tynemouth

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Tait and Tate surnames

Border Reiver family surname Northern and Scottish

Tait is a North East surname and especially in northern Northumberland, it also has an important presence in the rest of the North East and in North Yorkshire and is significant in County Down, Northern Ireland. Henry Guppy noted the important presence of the Tate surname in Sunderland.

As a Border Reiver name Tait was found in the Jedburgh area just across the Border. Tait was the 38th most numerous surname in the county of Northumberland in the 1881 census but did not make it into the top fifty names for any of the other northern counties of England.

Generally, Tait is most prominent in Scotland followed by Northern England and especially Northumberland, while Tate has very little presence in Scotland but is most prominent again in the North of England and especially Yorkshire and Durham.

Tait Scotland and Northumberland surname

In the 1881 census there were 8,856 people called Tait of which 5,665 resided in Scotland. The six most northern counties of England accounted for 2,458 Taits of which Northumberland was most prominent with 1,441. This was followed by Durham with 535; Lancashire 257; Yorkshire 125; Cumberland 99 and Westmorland only 1.  Others were found in the south of England, mostly in the south east.

Tate Northern England surname

By comparison there were 5,801 people called Tate in the 1881 census of which only 63 resided in Scotland. The six most northern counties of England accounted for 3,869 Tates of which Yorkshire was most prominent with 1,886. This was followed by Durham with 975; Northumberland 485; Lancashire 444; Cumberland 65 and Westmorland 14. The rest were found mostly in the south east of England where they were again much less numerous than in the North of England but in numbers more significant than Tait.

The surname is thought to derive (Tait at least) from an Old Norse word meaning ‘cheerful’, though the Tate version of the surname is also thought to derive from a place-name element. If they are from two distinct sources it is likely that there has been much confusion in the spelling of the two surnames over the centuries. A Ralph Tait is mentioned in the Records of the Templars of England in connection with Yorkshire in 1279 and a Thomas Tayte features in the Subsidy Rolls for Yorkshire in 1301.

Tallentire surname

County Durham surname

Listed by Henry Guppy as a surname in North Yorkshire, the surname has a strong presence in the Teesdale area of south west Durham and in neighbouring north west Yorkshire. Of the 304 Tallentires in the 1881 Great Britain census, some 135 resided in County Durham; 57 in Cumberland; 52 in Yorkshire; 27 in Northumberland; 16 in Lancashire and one in Scotland. The name derives from a place called Tallentire near Cockermouth in Cumbria (formerly in Cumberland).

Farmhouse, Forest in Teesdale
Farmhouse, Forest in Teesdale © David Simpson

Tarn surname

County Durham name

Listed by Henry Guppy as a  surname in Durham associated with Teesdale and south west Durham and neighbouring north west Yorkshire. The name means dweller by the tarn (a small lake) and in 1332 a Hugo Del Tern occurs in the Subsidy Rolls for Cumberland. As bodies of water there are no actual tarns in County Durham but the term is sometimes used in Cumbria.

In the 1881 census there were only 280 people called Tarn of which 167 resided in Durham. In Yorkshire there were 34; in Westmorland there were 16; in Northumberland 9; Cumberland 4 and Lancashire there was only 1 person called Tarn. Most of the few remaining Tarns resided in the south east.

Taylor surname

Widespread surname

Taylor is a widely distributed surname across England while Tailor is a rare variation not generally found in the North  East. In the 1881 census Taylor was the 2nd most numerous surname in the highly populous counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire after Smith. It was 5th in Cheshire; 9th in Westmorland and also 9th in Northumberland. The surname ranked 13th in County Durham and 24th in Cumberland. In terms of origin and meaning, a Taylor is of course a tailor, a maker and repairer of clothes.

Taylorson surname

County Durham surname

Taylorson seems to be a surname focused upon the North East. In the 1881 census there were only 304 people with this name in Great Britain of which 125 resided in County Durham; 44 in Yorkshire; 25 in Lancashire; 8 in Cumberland and 5 in Northumberland.

Teasdale surname

County Durham surname

This surname describes someone who originated from Teesdale. It is comparatively numerous in the North East and especially Cumbria. A Walter de Tesdale is mentioned in the Assize Rolls for Durham in 1235 and a Mariota de Tesdale in the Subsidy Rolls relating to Cumbria in 1332. Bishop Hatfield’s survey of Durham (1377-80) includes a Thomas Tesedale of Shadforth; Alanus Tesdall of Sheraton and John Tesdale of Darlington.

Low Force waterfall
Low Force waterfall, Teesdale © David Simpson

The surname occurs in two main forms: Teasdale and Teesdale. Of the two, Teasdale is the most numerous and in the 1881 census consisted of 2,538 individuals of which 2,273 lived in the six northern counties of England and especially County Durham where there were 707 followed by Yorkshire with 504; Lancashire 354; Cumberland 336; Northumberland 295 and Westmorland 77. There were only 29 people with this name in Scotland. Of the remainder, most lived in the south east.

Teesdale, which is the other main form of the name, only consisted of 450 individuals in the 1881 census, again predominantly in the six counties of the North with 172 individuals. There were 66 individuals in Durham and 66 in Yorkshire; 29 in Lancashire and 11 in Northumberland with others found mostly in the south east.

Telford surname

Northumberland, Durham and Cumberland

Telford was listed by Henry Guppy as a surname in Northumberland. In the 1881 census there were 2,643 people with this name in Great Britain of which 1,905 lived in the six northern English counties and only 602 in Scotland. In the North their numbers were 727 in Durham; 503 in Northumberland; 474 in Cumberland; 253 in Lancashire; 195 in Yorkshire and 7 in Westmorland with others stretched across England.

The related and similar surname Telfer was also listed by Henry Guppy as a surname in Northumberland. In the 1881 census it was predominantly Scottish with 1,211 of the 1,802 Telfers in Great Britain residing in Scotland. The North of England was home to 392 of which Northumberland accounted for 175; Lancashire 81; Cumberland 64; Durham 45 and Yorkshire 27.

As a surname Telford is in fact a variation of Telfer and derives from an old French name meaning ‘iron cleaver’, thought to be the nickname for a man who could cleave through the iron armour of an enemy.

Tempest surname

Yorkshire and Durham surname

Tempest is predominantly focused upon Yorkshire but is a notable surname in the history of County Durham. The surname occurs in the Pipe Rolls relating to Yorkshire in 1168 (a Roger Tempeste) and again in 1209 (Richard Tempest). There were early Yorkshire connections to Bolton near Skipton and Brompton near Northallerton.

Vane Tempest hall, Durham
Vane Tempest Hall, a former military drill hall, Durham © David Simpson

The Tempest surname relates to a violent storm or agitation, deriving from an Old French word, but whether this relates to the temperament of one of the ancestors of the family or to the weather at the time at which one of them was born, is not known.

An Isabella Tempest is mentioned in connection with Coatham Mundeville near Darlington in Bishop Hatfield’s Survey of Durham (1377-80) but the Tempests connected to County Durham were originally from Studley near Ripon. A Sir Richard Tempest of Studley, who died in 1406, had a son, Sir William Tempest, who married Eleanor Washington, who was heir of the manor of Washington. Their son, Rowland Tempest married Isabel Elmeden, a granddaughter of Sir Thomas Umfraville, of the Harbottle Umfravilles. The couple were gifted the Umfraville estate of Holmeside near Edmondsley in County Durham.

Their son, Robert Tempest of Holmeside married Anne Lambton of Lambton. Their sons included Sir Thomas Tempest, an MP for Newcastle in 1529 and a Nicholas Tempest of Langcestre (Lanchester). Nicholas’s son, a Thomas Tempest of Stanley was the progenitor of two notable branches of the family.

A Robert and Michael Tempest of Holmeside and of the ‘Leasures’ near Durham were supporters of the Rising of the North rebellion in 1569.

One of the two notable branches of the Tempest family began with Nicholas, a son of Thomas Tempest of Stanley.  Nicholas was connected with Stella near Blaydon and later connected through marriage to the Widdrington family.

Old Durham
View of Durham from Old Durham ©  David Simpson

A separate branch, beginning with another of Thomas’s sons called Rowland Tempest of Newcastle, gave rise to the Old Durham branch of the family and later a family called the Vane Tempests. Rowland Tempest’s branch were initially connected with ‘The Isle’ near Bradbury in Durham and then became connected with Old Durham following the marriage in 1642 of John Tempest of ‘the Isle’ to Elizabeth Heath, daughter and heir of John Heath of Old Durham and Kepier.

Their son, William Tempest (c1653-1700) of Old Durham was an MP for the city of Durham and his son John Tempest (c1679-1737), also of Old Durham was an MP for County Durham. His son, John Tempest of Sherburn and Wynyard (1710-1776), was an MP for the City of Durham and father of Frances Anne Tempest who inherited the estates following the death of her older brother, John Tempest in 1794. It was Frances who married Sir Henry Vane of Long Newton, and their descendants were the Vane Tempests.

In the 1881 census there were 1,400 individuals called Tempest in the Great Britain census of which 1,146 lived in the northern counties and especially Yorkshire which was home to 866 individuals. There were 132 Tempests in Lancashire; 110 in Durham and 38 in Northumberland (only 1 in Scotland) with the rest spread broadly across England and especially in the midlands.

Mayors of Hartlepool included William Tempest in 1681, 1687 and 1693 and mayors of the name John Tempest in 1702, 1709, 1715, 1720, 1747, 1758, 1778 and 1788.

Thirlwell surname

Northumberland and Durham surname

A Northumberland surname that comes from the Roman Wall country. The Thirlwell family (mentioned in a ballad see Featherstonehaugh) originated from Thirlwall on Hadrian’s Wall, where Picts are said to have ‘thirled’ or destroyed the Roman defences. This surname may also sometimes have the spelling Thirlwall. In a list of towers and castles in Northumberland in 1415 a Raulandi de Thirlwall is recorded as the owner of Thirlwall Castle near the Roman wall.

Hadrian's Wall Whin Sill
Hadrian’s Wall © David Simpson

The main Thirlwell variant of the surname occurs 404 times in the 1881 Great Britain census of which 388 resided in the six counties of Northern England. There were 173 in Durham; 164 in Northumberland; 36 in Cumberland; 13 in Yorkshire and 2 in Lancashire with the few remaining found mostly in the London area. It did not occur in Scotland.

Thirlwall with an ‘a’ occurs only 190 times in the 1881 census, again mostly in the north with 70 in Cumberland; 37 in Durham; 23 in each of Lancashire and Yorkshire and 5 in Northumberland with the few that remain in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Surrey. There were only 3 people of this name in Scotland.

There were other minor variations of these surnames in the 1881 census including Thurlwell with 71 individuals being the only one of significance. It occurred mostly in Yorkshire where there were 59 individuals.

Thirlwall Castle
Thirlwall Castle © David Simpson

Thompson surname

Very much a North Eastern name

Thompson is a widespread surname across England but most significant in the North East and North Yorkshire. In Scotland it is easily eclipsed by the similar surname Thomson. Guppy considered Thompson a widespread northern name, particularly numerous in Northumberland but rare or absent in the south. The ‘p’ in the surname Thompson is what is known as a ‘parasitic glide consonant’ (see Simpson). The surname is a minor Border Reiver surname. A notable Thompson was the Wearside comedian Bobby Thompson.

A Stephen Thompson was mayor of Durham in 1661, 1662 and 1673 and a John Thompson mayor of Hartlepool in 1718 and 1727.

In the 1881 census Thompson was the most numerous surname in the county of Northumberland, pushing Smith into second place. Thompson was 3rd in County Durham after Smith and Brown; 4th in Cumberland and Westmorland; 9th in Yorkshire but only 13th in Lancashire and 31st in Cheshire.

The 1881 census features 89,885 people with the surname Thompson of which a modest 4,475 reside in Scotland. The six northern counties of England account for 47,662 of which 15,833 resided in Yorkshire; 13,140 in Lancashire; 9,217 in Durham; 5,557 in Northumberland where it was the most numerous surname; 2,939 in Cumberland and 976 in Westmorland.

For comparison there were 40,206 people called Thomson (without the ‘p’) in the 1881 census of which 34,931 resided in Scotland. The numbers in the northern counties of England were relatively small with most found in Lancashire where there were 1,062, perhaps as a result of Scottish immigration into the Lancashire mill towns and industries. In Yorkshire there were 345 Thomsons; in Durham 146; Northumberland 144; Cumberland 105 and Westmorland 35.

Thornton surname

Widespread surname, especially in Yorkshire

A Northern England focused surname found especially in Yorkshire. The wealthy Roger Thornton, mayor of Newcastle, ‘Newcastle’s Dick Whittington’ is a notable of this name. In 1415 the tower of Whitton (Netherwitton) in Northumberland was recorded as under the ownership of Roger Thornton. Roger, a merchant who died in 1430 was mayor of Newcastle in 1400, 1402-05, 1416-17 and 1423-25. The Thornton surname could derive from any one of several places called Thornton.

Figures, Northumberland Street
Clockwise from top right. Figures of Thomas Bewick; Harry Hotspur Percy; Sir John Marley; Roger Thornton. Northumberland Street, Newcastle upon Tyne © David Simpson

In the 1881 census there were 15,096 people with this surname of which 8,848 resided in the six northernmost counties of England. Yorkshire was home to 5,207 people of this name; Lancashire 2,417; Durham 794; Northumberland 338; Westmorland 54 and Cumberland 38. Others were widely distributed across the midlands and south. There were only 796 individuals in Scotland.

Tindale surname

Durham and Yorkshire surname, Tynedale origin

Found in Durham and Yorkshire but ultimately from Tynedale in Northumberland (although there is also a place in Cumberland called Tindale). The Protestant scholar and reformer, William Tyndal (1494-1536) was from a family with Northumbrian roots, descended from an Adam de Tindal mentioned in Northumberland in 1165. A William Tyndal is noted in connection with Darlington in Bishop Hatfield’s survey of Durham (1377-80).

North Tynedale scenery near Tarset
North Tynedale scenery near Tarset, North Tynedale © David Simpson

The surname Tindale occurs 864 times in the 1881 census of which 711 are in the northern English counties with 344 in Durham; 307 in Yorkshire; 29 in Lancashire; only 15 in Northumberland; 14 in Cumberland and 2 in Westmorland with others scattered across the midlands and south. The variation Tyndal only occurs 44 times in the 1881 census, mostly in the south of England.

Tinkler surname

County Durham surname

Listed by Henry Guppy as a surname in County Durham and still notable in Durham, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. A Roger le Tinkeler occurs in Yorkshire in 1286 and the name refers to a tinker or worker in metal. The former Olympic gymnast, Amy Tinkler (born 1999) is from Bishop Auckland in County Durham.

In the 1881 census there were 1,299 people with this name of which 726 lived in the six northern counties of England and especially Durham where there were 390 Tinklers. There were 121 Tinklers in Yorkshire; 84 in Lancashire; 83 in Cumberland; 32 in Westmorland but only 16 in Northumberland. Outside the northern counties the name was most significant in the midlands and eastern counties including 115 of the name Tinkler in Lincolnshire.

Toward surname

County Durham surname

Like Tallentire, Teasdale and Tarn (see above) this name is associated with Teesdale. There were 264 people with this name in the 1881 census of which 129 resided in County Durham; 61 in Northumberland; 10 in Lancashire; 5 in Yorkshire and 2 in Cumberland. There were 40 in Scotland with others scattered thinly elsewhere. The ‘Tow’ in Toward rhymes with ‘now’ so it has the same pronunciation as the ‘Tow’ in the Durham place-name Tow Law. It is thought to derive from an old word meaning docile or compliant and despite the surname’s County Durham focus was recorded in Norfolk in the thirteenth century. Teward is a probable variation of this name.

Trotter surname

Border Reiver family Northumberland and Durham surname

Found in Northern England and especially the North East. In the 1881 census there were 3,147 people with this name of which 917 resided in Scotland. The six northernmost counties of England were home to 1,603 individuals of this name which was especially prominent in the North East. There were 562 in Durham; 404 in Northumberland; 353 in Yorkshire; 205 in Lancashire; 56 in Cumberland and 23 in Westmorland with others widely distributed across the midlands and south. The name is thought to derive from ‘trotier’ an Old French word for a messenger, though early medieval occurrences of the name are found in the south of England.

Tulip surname

Northumberland and Durham surname

A surname of North East England and particularly Durham with Northumberland associations in the past. Ultimately, however it originates (not from Amsterdam) but from a little to the north of the Border, being a corruption of ‘Tweed-up’ or ‘Tweedhope’ – a side valley of the River Tweed, a curious corruption of a name. The surname has historically occurred in the forms Tuddup and Twiddup. The name, though relatively rare, is firmly established in the North East and was historically closely associated with Fallowfield near Hexham.

In the 1881 census there were only 452 people with this name of which 255 lived in County Durham and 190 lived in Northumberland. All the other locations were as follows: Lancashire 18; Surrey 6; London 4; Sussex 3; Yorkshire 2; Worcestershire 2; Glamorgan 1; Staffordshire 1.

The surname in the 1881 census is focused mostly along the Tyne Valley (notably Ovington, Prudhoe and Mickley); as well as on Tyneside (especially Elswick, Newcastle, Heworth and South Tyneside); in Sunderland (especially Bishopwearmouth) and in a number of mining villages across the coalfield of County Durham, notably at Byers Green.

Turnbull surname

Border Reiver family surname

A North East surname especially in Northumberland but very significant in Durham too.

Early forms of the name Turnbull in Scotland include Turnebule and Tornebole which were both recorded in the fourteenth century. The name is of northern origin and was found on both sides of the Anglo-Scottish frontier in the age of the sixteenth century Border reivers. Enemies of the Turnbulls included the Armstrong clan of the ‘Debatable Land’ on the border between Cumberland and Scotland.

Turnbull is a nickname and literally means ‘turns bull’. referring to a person’s ability to become strong or brave when the need arose. In the sixteenth century a Yorkshire horse which displayed these characteristics was known as ‘Turnbull’. Another theory for the name is that it is a reference to a drover, which was a common occupation in the Scottish borders. The French word ‘Tourneboef’ is a word for a drover and may be related to Turnbull. Some believe that the Fife names Trumble and Trimble, also of Scottish origin are corruptions of Turnbull but a Robert de Tremblee is recorded in the thirteenth century and it may be that these forms derive from this particular name.

Signpost, Halidon Hill battle site
A ‘giant’ called Turnbull fought at the Battle of Halidon Hill battle site © David Simpson

In Yorkshire a name Trumbald or Thrumball existed as early as 1313 and another form Trumbald occurs in Suffolk in 1327. These names derive from the Anglo-Saxon Trumbeald meaning ‘strong-bold’, but again speculation that these names became Turnbull is not proven. In fact the roots of the name may likely lie north of the border. Though very numerous in Northumberland its presence in the counties on the Scottish side of the border is even more striking especially in the Hawick area.

A ‘giant’ by the name of Turnbull fought in a man to man battle (he was slain) with an English nominee at the start of the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. He fought on the Scottish side.

Today the name Turnbull is very common in Northumberland Tyneside, Durham and the Scottish Borders.

In the 1881 census Turnbull was the 19th most numerous name in Northumberland and 37th most numerous in County Durham. It did not make it into the top fifty names for Yorkshire; Cumberland; Westmorland; Lancashire or Cheshire.

There were 12,621 individuals called Turnbull in the 1881 census for Great Britain with 5,055 in Scotland and 6,201 in the six northern counties of England. Like another ‘Reiver’ surname, Robson, it was especially numerous in Northumberland and Durham. There were 2,706 individuals called Turnbull in Durham in 1881; 2,175 in Northumberland; 510 in Yorkshire; 491 in Lancashire; 306 in Cumberland and 13 in Westmorland with others distributed across the midlands and south east.

Tweddell and Tweddle surnames

Northern surname from the valley of the Tweed

Found in County Durham and mentioned by Henry Guppy and also in Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland and the northern part of Yorkshire. Notable groupings include the Tweddells of Thorpe Thewles and Tweddells of Threepwood in Northumberland. The name comes from Tweed dale in the upper reaches of the River Tweed in Scotland and has been corrupted into the surnames Tweddell, Tweddle and Tweedle.

In 1279 a Robert de Twedhall is mentioned in the Assize Rolls of Northumberland. This is yet another spelling of the name Tweeddale. A Robert De Twedhall is mentioned in the Assize Rolls for Northumberland, dated 1279.

The Tweddell form of the name occurs 248 times in the 1881 census with 91 in Durham; 15 in Lancashire; 37 in Yorkshire and 9 in Northumberland.

Tweddle is a more numerous variation with 1,038 individuals of which only 53 resided in Scotland and 947 in the six northern counties of England with 332 in Durham; 286 in Cumberland; 202 in Northumberland; 83 in Yorkshire; 39 in Lancashire and 5 in Westmorland and only a handful scattered across the rest of England. A George Tweddle was mayor of Durham in 1701.

Twiddle occurs 71 times in the 1881 census including 24 in Cumberland and 34 in Yorkshire. Twidale occurs 213 times in the 1881 census including 97 in Lincolnshire and 61 in Yorkshire. Tweedle occurs 195 times in the 1881 census including 63 in Scotland, 51 in Cheshire and 27 in Lancashire.

In fact the variations of these surnames are almost innumerable in the 1881 census: Tweddall; Twiddle; Tweddel; Tweddale; Twedale; Tweadle; Twadle are to name but a few. The surname Weddel may also be a derivative or contraction of the Tweddell surnames.

Tweedy surname

Northumberland and Durham name

A Northumberland and Durham focused surname especially in south west Durham but likely originating from the Borders. In Border Reiver times a variation, Tweedie (likely the same name as Tweedy at that time) is found in one of the adjoining upper valleys of the River Tweed west of Selkirk. However, the surname may derive from lands called Tweedie in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire in the Glasgow area.

Tweedy occurs 614 times in the 1881 Great Britain census with 213 in Northumberland; 97 in Durham; 108 in Yorkshire; 41 in Lancashire; 9 in Cumberland and only 1 in Scotland with others scattered across the midlands, south west and south east. Tweedy is the birth surname of the Newcastle-born singer Cheryl Ann Tweedy (born 1983), who simply goes by the name Cheryl.

Tweedie, is a Border Reiver surname and a more numerous name than Tweedy but also more Scottish in focus than Tweedy in the 1881 Great Britain census. Of the 1,172 individuals in Great Britain in 1881, there were 924 residing in Scotland. There were only 132 Tweedie individuals in the six northernmost counties of England, notably in Cumberland with 42, followed by Lancashire (29); Durham (26); Yorkshire (24) and Northumberland (11). There were also 26 Tweedies in Cheshire.

Tynemouth surname

Rare Northern surname

A rare surname that presumably originates from the place called Tynemouth at the mouth of the Tyne. There were only 55 people of this name in the 1881 census of which 28 resided in County Durham.

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