Origins Discovered?

A recently released survey indicates England's South East coast may be the Keeler birth place.

A Surname Distribution Survey has been completed for the surname KEELER (n.1) covering England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.(n.2) An unpublished survey conducted in 1975 established the Keeler heartland as Kent (81 families) and this is again reflected in this new survey (149 families.(n.3) The 1975 survey revealed a clustering around county towns and cities, the result of urbanisation. The distribution towards London is illustrative of this movement previously accelerated by Industrialisation. This trend has long stabilised and the 1995 survey indicates a reverse trend with families now moving away from both Inner and Outer London. This may have begun after the Second World War with the establishment of the 'New Towns' (See Table One). The two surveys show a distribution pattern indicative, not only of earlier urbanisation and the areas from where this movement began (the place, or, places of origin), but of an increasing trend north and eastwards. Most families in the Kent heartland, however, appear to have remained 'close to home.'

The East Kent Triangle.

Urbanisation and the earlier trend towards London are best seen in the two high surname density areas of the South East (particularly in East Kent) and in East Anglia (particularly Norwich). I refer to these areas as the East Kent and East Anglia Triangles. Both triangles radiate out from London towards their respective coasts, or more correctly, contract towards London from the coastal margins. In both triangles the frequency is higher along the eastern coast (See Map). Interesting is the high incidence of the surname in East Anglia where the annual growth rate (3.62%) over the twenty year period of the survey is marginally higher than in the South East (3.40%). This has resulted in 103.51% growth in East Anglia compared to 95.12% growth in the South East. Both areas are ahead of the UK annual growth rate (2.95%) which saw the total number of families throughout the United Kingdom increase from 301 (1975) to 538 (1995), an increase of 78.74%.

Moving North & West.

Beyond the two triangles the results vary. They range from 950% growth in the Northern Home Counties to a minimal 2.82% growth in London. The high growth in the Northern Home Counties suggests a northward movement from London.(n.4) A 50% decrease in Northern Ireland where the incidence of the surname only just registers shows this 'foothold' is faltering.(n.5) The 150% increase in Scotland is from too small a sample to call, but may be a further indicator of northward movement. In addition a lesser, but equally distinct movement westwards is discernible into the North West and into Wales.(n.6) The North East joins the North West in growth beyond the national average supporting this northward and westward trend (See Table Two).

Living Descendants.

We can now estimate the number of living descendants in the United Kingdom at 4304 of whom half (2152) bear the surname. The average rate of growth indicates Keeler families doubled in 24 years.


1.The survey was conducted strictly on the spelling KEELER although alternative spellings undoubtedly relate in some instances to the same descendant families. My own surname spelling is a case in point.

2.Based on British Telecom Directories.

3.Kent figures extracted from the South East Area.

4.The Emigration figure for the period is unknown and although this figure would be most interesting it would have minimal effect on the trends indicated.

5.The 1995 figure for Eireann (The Republic of Ireland) is 12. Ireland was not included in the 1972 survey.

6.The rate of increase in the Northern Home Counties is by a factor of 4 over the national average; Wales by 2; Scotland 1.6; the North West 1.5; North East 1.3.

Copyright 1997 Wilbert Keiller

LINK Now To 'U.K. Survey Statistics' (Quick Link BELOW) for the Survey Stats.