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The Surname Detective: Investigating Surname Distribution in England, 1086-present day Paperback – August 15, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press (August 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719040485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719040481
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 1.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,409,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mark Howells on July 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's a very cold day in Hades indeed when I give a negative review to genealogy book - particularly one on English genealogy. However, this book was simply terrible.
The premise - that interesting insights into surname distributions and migration patterns in England may be determined by reviewing and then comparing different sorts of record types which include surnames - is a fascinating one.
Unfortunately, the author approaches the subject in a chatty, "let's ask the questions and find the answers together" fashion which is almost completely unreadable. This "shared voyage of discovery" methodology makes reading this book a bore. I say this having read several hundred genealogy books, so it's not the subject matter I refer to as boring - it's the writing style.
Another problem with the book is that it is written in "British English" complete with colloqialisms and inside-jokes which were off-putting even to an unreformed Anglophile such as myself.
Besides stylistic issues, this volume does not examine the source materials used for its study with anything approaching enough criticality. Using telephone directory discs for modern surname distributions is a great idea except for all the ex-directory people, the multiple telephones per household slowly becoming more common, and the inherent errors in any phone book.
For the next historic period of surname distribution, the author's review of the Victorian censuses reads like a schoolboy's essay. The problems of thorough coverage regarding the censuses are legion yet they are brushed aside by the author.
This book is a tough read and its premise is not particularly well argued.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Strickland on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a first for me with writing a review but since I have gotten involved with putting the family history in book form. I have needed many extra reseach books. The Surname Detective is just what it claims. It give family names and traces the movement into different parts of the original country and immigrations of the families. The maps are helpful to me. I do think it is over priced because it is not an everyday working or reading volume and it is generic. But if you are wondering about your family name and can afford it, I always recomend factual data.
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Format: Paperback
The name promises too much. Of little use to most family tree researchers. This should have been left as an unpublished dissertation, available in a library for a very small group of people researching migration patterns.
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