How Odd Is Your Surname?

How Odd Is Your Surname?

Is your last name common, unusual, or somewhere in between? These online tools will tell you.

The Geneanet family trees website has a list of the most popular names in its family trees, ranging from Smith, Brown, Johnson, Jones and Williams at the top, to Garoutte, Crosno, Yearsley and Letendre at the bottom, on page 50. But you also can search for even less common surnames: Fryxell ranks 730,508th, with a mere 17 hits compared to 694 for Garoutte.
 
As of 2000, the 10 most common—and thus most genealogically challenging—US surnames were: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, Davis, Garcia, Rodriguez and Wilson. To learn the popularity of current surnames, consult the Census Bureau website. It lists the most popular surnames and has downloadable files with the top 1,000 names, as well as all surnames occurring at least 100 times. Data reflect the 2000 census; you also can see data from the 1990 enumeration.
 
The American Last Names website, also based on the 2000 census data, offers easy access and some interesting lists, along with comparisons to 1990.
 
According to that site, Fryxell ranked 99,214th among all US surnames, with a mere 169 census examples. Even less common, tied for 150,436th with the cutoff of 100 census examples, were surnames including Rhodebeck, Dornink, Doriott, Maccia, Maccarter, Zeldes, Vandervegt, Neahring, Nenneman, Yakim, Dobron, Vanhaverbeke, Nen, Vanheuklon, Lutzi, Luterman and Hergenrather.
 
A similar compilation for England, Wales and the Isle of Man is available; it draws on 2002 data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The searchable database contains almost 270,000 surnames, which are shared by 54.4 million people, but it omits the most unusual English surnames (no Fryxells—I checked). The full ONS compilation, counting all surnames shared by five people or more, contains more than 1 million different names.
 
From the January/February 2016 Family Tree Magazine 

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