Oxfordshire Surname Survey Results

By Jessica Feinstein

This article was published in the August 2020 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

Ed: In January 2020 Oxfordshire Family History Society sent out a survey to Society members and others who had expressed an interest in contributing data to the Oxfordshire Surname Project. They received 435 responses, none of them of our surnames, but we know that there were a lot of Sauls in the county at an early date so the information they gained on occupations in the county is of general interest to us. This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the August edition of the journal of the Oxfordshire Family History Society and is reprinted here by kind permission of the author and editor.

The oldest ancestor reported was John GOUGH ‘of Adderbury’ who was alive in 1440, with four others living later in the century and nearly 50 in the 1500s.
Participants were asked about the occupation of the oldest known Oxfordshire ancestor. This produced a really interesting range. Along with quite a few agricultural and farm labourers, there were:
bakers, bargemen, blacksmiths, blanket weavers, bookbinders, booksellers, builders, butchers, cabinet makers, carpenters, carriers, carters, church wardens, clothiers, coach trimmers, collar makers, college servants, cordwainers, curriers, domestic servants, draymen, farmers, footmen, foresters, fullers, gamekeepers, gentlemen, glove cutters, graziers, grooms, housewives, hurdle makers, husbandmen, joiners, landowners, lath renders, launderers, maltsters, masons, millers, painters, paper makers, parish clerks, plasterers, postboys, printers, publicans, rectors, rope makers, sawyers, schoolmasters, shepherds, shoemakers, slaters, stone masons, tailors, tanners, vicars, victuallers, and yeomen.

Some respondents mentioned that a particular occupation was still in the family.
(If any of these occupations are new to you, a good source is https://rmhh.co.uk/occup/.)
We asked our respondents how they knew the information about their Oxfordshire ancestors. The most popular source was parish registers. Other sources mentioned were wills, census records, court cases, Quarter Sessions records, DNA matches, family Bible, other people’s research, books, tax records, newspapers, manorial records, civil registrations, apprenticeships, oral histories, settlement orders, inventories, immigration records, tax lists, surname projects, history societies, family papers, directories, libraries and archives, and land and property records.
136 of our respondents had a confirmed DNA link to the family line, with others still waiting for test results or matches.
We also asked ‘Where did this family come from before Oxfordshire?’. Responses included Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, London, Worcestershire, Yorkshire, Somerset and Devon.
A book and database is being produced by the project team which will highlight the types of records and evidence that people have used to make progress with their research.
If you have Oxfordshire ancestors the Oxfordshire Family History Society is collecting data for the Oxfordshire DNA Project as well as for the Oxfordshire Surname Project and more information is on their website wwwofhs.org.uk