By Kirsty Topping
LOUGHTY, MacMicking and Slora have been revealed as amongst the most endangered surnames in Scotland.
The names have been left on the brink of extinction due to heirless marriages and altered spellings, new research has shown.
Once common names such as MacQuoid and Tumbler are now thought to belong to fewer than 20 households.
The electoral register reveals that there is just on Loughty family left, while Slora belongs to just 41, with the variant Slorah having five.
Other names, such as MacCaa, are
“presumed extinct’ in the UK by ancestry website MyHeritage.com.
However all is not lost for the ancient name, which has links to clans including MacFarlane, MacDonald and Galloway, as there are thought to be 900 holders in the US.
Genealogist Laurence Harris, who advises the family tree website, said the disappearance was due to natural decline and bad luck:
“I still think the biggest factor is one of chance.
“Because names are historically passed down from one generation to another via the male line, it is largely a matter of chance as to whether a couple has male children or not, and whether those children grow up to marry and pass their names down. “
Surnames began in the 13th century when people began registering births alongside a place or father’s occupation but spellings were rarely standardised.
Conflicts have further thinned out names, including some that were specific to a certain place.
“The Napoleonic conflicts and the first World War saw entire generations of young men wiped out: boys who bore distinctive surnames relating to the villages or hamlets from which they came,’ Harris said.
Others were lost due to migration, though there is evidence of returning Australians, Canadians and Americans reintroducing names centuries later.
Changing fashions have also played a part, with new slang rendering some names improper.
Randy Baumgardner may be a well-known US official in the Department of State but his name might be viewed slightly differently were he to live in the UK.
Surnames such as Spinster, Puscat and Bytheseashore also appear to have died out in the 20th century.
However with younger women more likely to keep their surnames after marrying, names have become less likely to die out.
A rare surname can help push the holder up Google search rankings and is an asset for anyone involved in a business dependent on personal connections – and is certain to be more memorable than Smith and Jones.