Your surname Investigating your own surname Distribution and statistics Surname Profiler [link updated 2019] is an online database (the result of an academic research funding bid) which plots the distribution of some 50,000(?) names in 1998 on to postcode areas and also the 1881 distribution against the same areas (should postcode areas have existed then). The cut-off frequency is 100. The accompanying statistics need to be treated with caution. How they were compiled needs to be understood. The classification given to individual names does not necessarily conform to accepted practice. Surname Atlas is a purchasable CD which plots the distribution of all names(surnames and forenames) in the 1881 census to a finer degree. Full tables of accompanying statistics Meaning/Origin For UK names consult the following Surname Dictionaries (but treat the definitions as suggestions, rather than prescriptive): Cottle, Basil ‘The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames’. Penguin, 1967 Dunkling, Leslie Dictionary of Surnames Collins, 1998 – (Includes recent arrivals such as Patel) Hanks Patrick. A dictionary of surnames Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988 – (has a useful introduction on the naming systems of Western Europe) Reaney , P.H. A dictionary of British surnames. – Revised 3rd edition ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997 For European names consult Hanks or surname dictionaries for individual countries or ethnic groups. Dictionaries of Chinese family names and Jewish names are available. Arab name dictionaries will just concern themselves with personal names. Use the resources on my site to determine where in the UK the name is most concentrated. Does this square with your family history? Is your surname listed? What percentage of class-names are not? Can the definitions be assigned to an overlying classification scheme (probably European names only)? (suggested link) What is the origin of your teacher’s name? It is estimated that 3% of surnames are animal names (source: N Jacobs Naming-day in Eden) e.g. Michael Fox the film-actor, can you name any more?