Common American Surnames
From “Surnames and Her-Names”
On the whole, in two centuries, the most common names in the United States have not changed all that much. Smith is still the best name for signing into a hotel anonymously. Johnson has moved up a notch to second. And the top five at the turn of the 18th century are still in the top six.
35 of the original top fifty were still on the list more than two centuries later. Of the fifteen that fell from the list, ten (Stewart, Rogers, Reed, Cook, Bailey, Richardson, Bennett, Foster, Parker and Russell) were still in the top 100 while just five (Cole, Stevens, Stone, Pierce and Wheeler) fell further. Notice the rise of nine Latino names into the top 50.
The biggest decline in popularity was the once popular Wheeler which fell from 45th to 223th in ranking. Another notable decline can be seen with the name of Clark, once sixth most common, now merely 25th. My guess is that the Wheelers and Clarks of the country either produced a lot of daughters or else chose prosperity over posterity and had few children.
But change did occur. Nine Latino names (isn’t it peculiar that Latino refers to Spanish-speaking people outside of Spain instead of Italians living in Rome?) were so common in the homelands that, with the continuous influx of immigrants, they became common in the U.S, too. As can be seen in the table below, Latino names like Garcia, Rodriguez and Martinez have surpassed such starkly colonial names as Hall, Allen and Lewis in the census – kind of like the taco becoming more popular than the hotdog.
50 Most Common Surnames in the United States
Source: U.S. Census Bureau