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Cocks and Balls Fallling Out Of Favor

from The Times Online

Rudest names from the Middle Ages are dying from embarrassment

They are some of the oldest surnames in the land, passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. But over the past century or so, they have gone into a catastrophic decline.

cocke.pngIs it migration? Death? Disease? Some socio-demographic calamity that has befallen these families? Perhaps not. A list of the names reveals that their fall in popularity may have a more prosaic cause.

Cock, Daft, Death, Smellie, not to mention Gotobed, Shufflebottom and Jelly: they are all surnames that would have caused their owners considerable embarrassment over the years. A new analysis of British surnames reveals how names with rude overtones have seen the sharpest decline over the past 120 years as their owners have changed them to something more innocuous.

A comparison of the 2008 population — using data from a variety of sources — with the first census in 1881 shows that the number of Cocks has shrunk by 75 per cent, while the number of people called Balls or Daft has fallen by more than 50 per cent.

[ click to continue reading at Times Online ]

Posted on March 30, 2009 by Editor

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