View Full Version : Are your 23andme "Top Relative Surnames" interesting?

06-24-2013, 10:50 AM
Hi there. Just curious if anyone had anything to say about the "Top Relative Surnames List" that appears on "My Ancestry Overview" at 23andme. You can get an expanded list by clicking on it.

Obviously this list reflects names that are significant to your family tree, but also common among people you are related to but having nothing to do with your family tree, as well as also names that are simply generally common. The names have some sort of weighting applied to them relative to their commonness, although I'm not sure of the methodology behind the weighting.

My first two listings are dead on.

Caudill is number 1, but heavily "enriched." Definitely confirmed in my tree via a couple of different lineages, it logically shows up because though a rare surname spelling overall, it is very thickly distributed in certain places (Wilkes and surrounding counties in North Carolina, much of Eastern Kentucky where it is hard to read a newspaper without finding distant relatives both on the crime watchlist and the academic honors list). It also points out one of the problems with the list, which is that it doesn't have a soundex equivalency or something of the like incorporated in it (it would be nice to have the Caudills and Caldwells linked, for example, or for that matter something as simple as another one of my instances, Daniel and Daniels).

My second listed surname is White, which makes since because I have two separate and presumably unrelated White lineages and in addition probably a number of people with the relatively common name in their list aren't related at all but simply coincidental.

The next three surnames, Howard, Carnes, and Kilgore, seem to have nothing to do with my family tree (and with at least Kilgore it seems that it is a result of regional or sub-regional commonness of the name rather than relation, because I have more likely surname connections with most who list that name).

Then with 6-9, Prater, Summers, Witt, and Cox, we are dead on the money again. From there it trails off with occasional "hits" here and there.

What are your experiences?

Scarlet Ibis
06-27-2013, 04:01 AM
Hmmm....interesting. I haven't looked at this feature in a long time, and it seems to have changed since then.

My top 5:

1) Foote -- This one shouldn't be #1 on the list. It's there because 7 people have it, but 5 of them are from the same immediate family.
2) Phillips -- ?
3) Howell -- Exists in my known family tree
4) Thompson -- Exists in my known family tree
5) Morrow -- ?

06-27-2013, 11:13 AM
If I were adopted, I'd have a good clue as to my heritage, all of the top 108 surnames are Finnish and then the Anglicized versions start showing up for the last 17.

J Man
06-27-2013, 06:41 PM
Finnish names are at the top on my list. Strange how ''Maternal Surnames'' shows up at number 5. :P

1.) Laitinen
2.) Seppala
3.) Koskela
4.) Saari
5.) Maternal Surnames

06-29-2014, 04:19 AM
I have only one frequently occurring surname. A common name among Assyrians (Yonan = Jonah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah)):


06-29-2014, 05:26 AM
Mine aren't -- I've posted why here (http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?2590-Debunking-Relative-Finder-for-Ashkenazi-ancestry). For my mother's kit, two of them are:

Harvey - name of 7th great-grandmother
Baxter - common near Glasgow, perhaps distantly related
Walsh - probably just shows Irish ancestry
Gilliam - ?
Calvert - surname tightly linked to ancestry near Teesdale

Scarlet Ibis
06-29-2014, 06:06 AM
It seems mine have drastically changed again. They seem to be a mixture of almost all British Isles, but some Dutch surnames. No Korean ones yet.

Top 5:

1) Turner
2) Thompson
3) Foster
4) Gill
5) Hoover

06-29-2014, 12:30 PM
My top ten surnames (using the default list, rather than by count, as I'm not sure which one people are using). Most of the surnames are of British Isles origin with some German surnames, although I have quite a few American cousins with some German ancestry, so that's probably the source of those -

1. Armistead (I did have an Armistead in my direct matrilineal line who married a Berry, which is number three in the list, but that line is incorrect)
2. Chapman (There's only one Chapman in my family tree, a 9th great grandmother)
3. Berry (I do have Berry cousins, but they're related to me on my dad's side, rather than being related to the Berrys I've already mentioned)
4. Billington (There's only one Billington in my tree, a 5th great grandmother)
5. Savage (A wife of a third cousin three times removed has this as one of her middle names, but apart from her, there are no Savages in my tree)
6. West (I have cousins with the surname East, but no Wests)
7. Russell (The only Russells in my tree are a 5th great grandfather and his children)
8. Davies (No Davies in my tree)
9. Hatcher (No Hatchers in my tree)
10. Sutton (There are two Suttons in my tree, an 8th great grandfather and his daughter, my 7th great grandmother)

If I go by count, my top ten looks like a list of common English surnames.

My brother's default top ten -

1. Eccles (I have no Eccles ancestors, but there are a couple of Eccles families who are related via marriages to fairly close relatives)
2. Coffey (No Coffeys in my tree)
3. Constable (No Constables in my tree)
4. Sutton (There are two Suttons in my tree, an 8th great grandfather and his daughter, my 7th great grandmother)
5. Blanton (No Blantons in my tree)
6. Gibson (I have some living Gibson cousins via a close cousin)
7. Sumner (Along with a 7th great grandfather and 6th great grandmother, another Sumner married a cousin from the same area as the other Sumners, so they might be connected)
8. Hatcher (No Hatchers in my tree)
9. Storey (surname of my earliest known direct matrilineal ancestor)
10. Nichols (No Nichols in my tree)

If I go by count, my brother's top ten is also basically a list of some of the most common English surnames including our own surname.