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Surname Statistics

As those of us living with the name know from repeatedly spelling and correcting our name, it is not too common. Certainly there are surnames more rare, but ours is unusual enough to warrant explanation and clarification to every telemarketer, salesperson and passerby we

But how rare is it really?

The US Census Bureau, Population Division, has created a database of the frequency of surnames in the United States based on the 1990 Federal Census.

The following list includes some of the spellings most commonly found in the McKemie One Name Study.

McKemie 81257

Understanding the ranking: McKemie is the 81,257th most common surname in the United States. There are 81,256 surnames that appear more frequently in the 1990 census. So, looking at the above list, the most common variation is McKamey, ranking 8811th, with only 8810 surnames more common. Spellings that did not rank at all include McKamy, McKemey, McKemmey, McKemmie, McKemy, McKimmey, McKimmie and McKimie. And yet these names all appear in the 1930 US Federal Census as well as in current public directories. Therefore, it must be assumed that these spellings are simply so rare as to not rank.

A database has been created using data obtained from the Office of National Statistics and contains a list of surnames is use in England, Wales and the Isle of Mann in September 2002.


Moving to Ireland, I have only found limited information, but suspect the names are essentially nonexistent in this area in modern times. I have found four individuals in a directory for County Donegal, Ireland. Many of the 19th century censuses have been destroyed. Substitutes such as Griffith’s Valuation and Tithe Applotment books provide a small clue, though looking for McKemies here is a challenge. There seems to have been a McKemey family present in Donegal throughout most of the 19th century, however.