Rare Surnames

What’s the rarest surname you have heard for a person (or family) still living?


Genealogy websites may offer better searching tools and perhaps some of you know an even faster/better way of looking up the least frequent names. If so, perhaps there’s more to rely on than personal experience.

The more intriguing issue to me is in trying to square up two conflicting ideas:

  1. It has been my contention that there’s no way to refute the statement that, regardless of who or where you are, if you’re alive then your ancestors “go all the way back” to whenever human beings evolved to the species we are today

  2. Some surnames are dying out or becoming increasingly rare.

The most obvious way a surname can die out is for there to be progressively fewer male offspring – in societies where the surname is carried forward by males.

Perhaps other related issues can add to the discussion. And perhaps mentioning specific surnames may afford others the chance to refute the rarity of that name.

As an example to get started, a new weather person on local TV is Allison Chinchar whose surname I was unfamiliar with. A Yahoo! search on “chinchar” returns over 10 pages of hits, so I am obviously poorly informed about the frequency of her name. My bad.

Another fun place to investigate surname distribution and frequency is http://www.hamrick.com/names/ where colored maps can show how the name has moved across the USA.

I’m open to any other surname related issues and don’t object to “off topic” sidetracks.

This page helped me clarify and improve my knowledge of the Chinchar name:

Two Bears didn’t show up on that site at all. Funny, I thought it’d be more common.

Sgammato is predictably rare.

There’s more of mine than I thought; 342 of us, tied for 55,971st place.

My grandfather’s last name was Glafke. The white pages site only lists 16 in the entire country, although I know there are a few missing names.

As expected, I got 0. “Abigantus” is more common. There are more “Affeltrangers” and “Chiffrillers.”

My maiden name falls in the 60,000-ranked range; my husband’s surname is just past the 75,000 mark. Less than 300 of each in the US.

Oh, my mom’s maiden name is in the 130,000 range - just a bit over 100 people in the US with the surname.

My last name isn’t even listed on that site. On WhitePages.com it brings up 16 results, including myself & my close family, though some of the others are repeated names.

I found about what I expected: there’s only 112 of us with my last name in the US, for a ranking of 137,816. I’d say offhand that I know somewhere between half and 2/3 of all people in the US with my surname.

There’s only two distinct families with my surname in the whole world. But, as it is an African name, those are quite extended families :).

There are about 700 people with my last name, a little more than I expected. There are 25000 people with a more common spelling of my last name. I never met or seen anyone outside my immediate family with my last (exact) name, and I have known people with the alternate spelling.

Tracing my family tree back, my last name was spelled very strangely. There was a rift in the family during the revolutionary war (Patriots vs loyalists) and Patriots changed their name to one spelling and the Loyalists took the more obscure spelling (mine). There is no name in the census with the original spelling.

Mine. There are about 30 living people with my surname, in three (apparently unrelated) families in the US. It’s a variant of a name originally from Switzerland which seems not to occur there any more, although there are several hundred people there with the common spelling of the name. We don’t know whether our spelling originated in Switzerland and disappearred there, or whether it was a misspelling acquired when our ancestors emigrated in the 1800s.

My great-great-grandfather seems to have emigrated to the US without relatives, and we don’t know of any brothers. My great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were the only males in their families who reached adulthood. But I have four brothers, and between them they have six sons (and two grandsons so far) to carry on the name. So right now there are 13 males with the surname in our family, where for many decades there were never more than two.

My surname (by marriage) didn’t come up on that site at all. It was changed to what it is now when my ex husband’s family came through Ellis Island, so the only people in the world who have this particular name are related to and descended from the first group that immigrated to the United Stated from Italy. Each and every one of the very few people using this last name in the US are related.

Can’t wait to ditch it.

I know someone with this one.

#37788 just over 500 occurrences in the 2k census. Her husband (different last name) has the exact same name of a IRA bomber so they had to get FBI clearance to fly. The FBI told her she was only person with her name (first and last combination)

My surname is in the top 20, so there’s no risk of us dying out.

One spreadsheet gives the top 1,000 with data on race by surname.

The top white surnames, by percentage, are Yoder (98% white) and Krueger (97% white).

The top black surnames are Washington (90% black) and Jefferson (75% black).

The top Hispanic surnames are Barajas (96% Hispanic) and Zavala (95% Hispanic).

There are 13 people in the United States with my last name.

There is another variant of it, but it also has too few occurances to show up on the Census spreadsheet. I think there are also less than 20 with that variant.

There is only one male, my nephew, in the youngest generation with my last name. I have a daughter and my only male cousin has two daughters. My brother shares my last name, but was adopted by my dad when he was three. So unless my cousin or I have a son (or our daughters don’t change their names), there will be no people in the United States with my last name who are actually related by blood after this generation.

I came across someone with the last name of Manbeavers once. I can’t imagine that one being too frequent. A Google search gives me 1,091 hits, but I have no idea how many of those are legitimately separate people with that surname.

I’m sure it’s still used somewhere, but I’d imagine that “Hitler” is an exceedingly rare name to come across ever since about 1945 on.

Don’t have time to figure out how to look this one up, but have to include it: Vagnini. Saw a bride with this maiden name on a wedding show. :o

Turnipseedis pretty rare.