What is a One-Name Study?
A one-name study is a project researching all occurrences of a surname, as opposed to a particular pedigree (ancestors of one person) or descendancy (descendants of one person or couple). Some "one-namers" may restrict their research geographically, perhaps to one country, but true one-namers collect all occurrences world-wide. The Guild only accepts true one-name studies for registration, although anyone with an interest in one-name studies is welcome to become a member.
A one-name study may concentrate on aspects such as geographical distribution of the name and the changes in that distribution over the centuries, or may attempt to reconstruct the genealogy of as many lines as possible bearing the name. A frequent aim is to identify a single original location of the name, especially if the name appears to derive from a place name. But for many names, for example those indicating an occupation like Butcher, or a patronymic-type surname such as Peterson, there will not be a single origin.
One-Namers often make some attempt to quantify the rarity of their name. There is much scope for co-operation between one-namers and other genealogists and family historians - they are not a breed apart, and many are also engaged in more conventional pedigree hunting of their other ancestors. Many drift into a one-name study as a way of eliminating alternatives when researching a particular ancestral name. A co-operative effort between people studying the same surname bears much fruit and they have a good chance of discovering new relatives, depending of course on how common the name is.
About the Guild of One-Name Studies
The Guild of One-Name Studies is the premier UK-based organisation for one-name studies. The Guild welcomes as members anyone who has an interest in the subject. Members who are carrying out a one-name study may register their study with the Guild.