It's Goodbye Mr Chips: Just one of 200,000 surnames now extinct in England and Wales
Many familiar surnames have died out since 1901
Woodbead, Rummage and Jarsdel among others under threatFamous names such as Mirren, Bonneville and Nighy could also go
01:41 GMT, 22 February 2013
08:01 GMT, 22 February 2013
Actor Martin Clunes playing Mr Chips in the the classic novel – a surname which is one of 200,000 now extinct
For the schoolmaster of the classic novel, ‘Mr Chips’ was an affectionate nickname.
And sadly it seems that’s the only way it will survive.
‘Chips’, once popular in Middlesex and Essex, is one of 200,000 surnames which have disappeared from England and Wales over the past 100 years.
Others said to be extinct – with fewer than five left on the census – include Woodbead, Rummage and Jarsdel.
Some very familiar names are also on their way out, according to the research by family history website ancestry.co.uk. The surnames of Helen Mirren, Hugh Bonneville and Bill Nighy are all at risk of vanishing within a couple of generations.
In 2001, 50 people or fewer were called Mirren, Nighy or Bonneville. The study compared the prevalence of surnames in that year with the 1901 census.
The researchers also compiled a list of the traditional surnames which are dying out the fastest.
That was topped by William, which was the 374th most common surname in 1901 but has fallen to 12,500th today. Others include Clegg, Sutcliffe and Kershaw. In some cases the decline is because other names have become more common, particularly Scottish, Irish and foreign surnames.
The researchers said many of the names which had vanished since 1901 had been anglicised by their owners. Immigrants coming to Britain would often do this to ‘fit in’ or avoid complications with spelling.
A spokesman for ancestry.co.uk said: ‘This trend persists but to a far lesser degree today, accounting for just 6 per cent of current British residents who have changed their names.
‘One famous example of this trend is Helen Mirren, who was born Helen Mironoff before her Russian father changed the family name to Mirren in the 1950s.’
Under threat: The surnames of Helen Mirren, left, and Bill Nighy, right, could be lost in a few generations
The First World War also played a part in ‘wiping out’ some names.
spokesman added: ‘Unfortunately, when specific battalions suffered mass
casualties during the conflict, whole towns or villages would lose a
generation of young men. In the early 20th century many names were
common, or exclusive, to an area, so such catastrophes could easily wipe
specific surnames off the map.’
study also found that people with rarer surnames were typically more
attached to them. This is shown in a recent spike in double-barrelled
names, which were once the preserve of the upper classes.
One in 50 Britons now has a hyphenated name, compared with one in 50,000 in 1901. Nearly half of these are preserving a family name.
As for Chips, the study found there were 33 of them listed in the 1901 census, and fewer than five in 2001.
The real name of fictional Latin master Mr Chips, who appeared in a 1934 novel by James Hilton and a film of the book five years later, was Mr Chipping. But according to the study, that is on the way out too.
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