WATSON BEATS SHERLOCK IN MOST POPULAR NAMES LIST
- Nine people named ‘Sherlock Holmes’ in England and Wales
- Parents named sons ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Mycroft Holmes’
- 14,405 ‘Watsons’ vs 319 ‘Sherlocks’
To celebrate the release of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on Friday 16th December, findmypast.co.uk, a leading UK family history website, has put on its deerstalker hat to uncover Britain’s real Sherlock Holmes.
Their detective work has revealed that since the publication of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, in 1887 nine people have been named Sherlock Holmes across England and Wales. Furthermore, the Holmes brothers also truly existed. In the 1911 census, a Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft Holmes – played by Stephen Fry in the new film - are residing in Yorkshire aged 14 and 10 years old.
But the most popular name from the world’s most famous detective series is not Sherlock or Mycroft, but Watson, the detective’s loveable partner played by Jude Law. Watson appears 14,405 times as a forename in the list of births registered in England and Wales between 1837 and 2006. It even appears eight times as a forename and surname: Watson Watson. 319 people had Sherlock as a forename.
The evidence at a glance…
Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk commented: “We don’t know whether this is the story of Holmes-obsessed parents, or just a coincidence, but it certainly surprised us. It seems highly unlikely for these parents to have named their sons after the brothers in the world’s most famous detective stories purely by chance. Who knows, perhaps the new film will prompt a comeback for these names and we’ll see Sherlock, Watson and Mycroft topping the baby name charts next year! You never know what mysteries you’ll uncover in your family tree, which is why researching your family history is so exciting and surprising. You really have no idea who you are related to until you explore the many twists and turns.”
Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk (formerly 1837online.com) was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003.
Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today.
Findmypast.co.uk has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back as 1200. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.
In November 2006 findmypast.co.uk launched the ancestorsonboard.com microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.
In April 2007, findmypast.co.uk’s then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement.
Findmypast.co.uk was acquired in December 2007 by brightsolid, the company who were awarded The National Archives’ contract to publish online the 1911 census, which it launched in January 2009.
In 2010 in association with The National Archives findmypast.co.uk launched the British Army Service Records 1760 - 1913.