Tuesday 11 April 2017

Book launch: Top 300 Surnames of Derry-LondonDerry

The Top 300 Surnames of Derry-Londonderry, by Brian Mitchell, has been published.

A member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland (AGI), Brian runs the Derry Genealogy Service and has written several books exploring the history and genealogical resources of the area. This latest compact book – a 72-page paperback – includes a series of maps created by Sam Mitchell to help the reader follow the migration of surnames to Derry.

Exploring the history of a surname is a useful first step on a journey to tracing roots in Ireland. Surnames are very much connected to place in Ireland and are, therefore, an integral part of Irish identity and family history.

In the case of the Northern Ireland city of Derry (aka Londonderry), naming traditions go back to Derry’s founding by the city of London in 1613.

Brian has based his selection of 300 surnames on the 1989 Foyle Community Directory. Each name in this book has at least ten listings in the Foyle directory. The Introduction discusses the main cultural origins of Derry surnames – Gaelic, English and Lowland Scottish – and 20th-century newcomers, notably persons from Italy; Jews fleeing Eastern Europe and, later, Nazi Germany; and, most recently, Indian nationals. Derry’s unique historical background, including the impact upon surnames of the C17th Plantation of Ulster, also comes into play.

The bulk of the book consists of an alphabetical list of surnames, each given a ranking and short description history, such as the following:

Olphert. Rank: 269. Scottish. This variant of Oliphant is chiefly found in Counties Antrim and Derry. The Oliphants of Norman origin, who settled in Northamptonshire, England in the late 11th century, acquired lands in Roxburghshire, Scotland in the 12th century. The Londonderry Port Book of 1612 to 1615 records the trading activity of Wibrant Olfert, a Dutch merchant, who made Derry his home in the very early years of the Plantation of Ulster; he was importing timber from Norway and exporting butter and oats.

A bibliography of the books Brian consulted for this research is provided.

Published by Clearfield, the paperback is now on sale via Genealogical.com (US$14.95) or, for Ireland and UK purchases, via Amazon (£9.45).

ISBN: 978-0806358420