Approaching migrations through family names: the Barcelona area at the 16th century

Joan Pau Jordà, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Joana-Maria Pujadas-Mora, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Aina Moragues, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Anna Cabré, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Migrations are the most difficult demographic phenomena to measure because of the absence of appropriate registers. However, information on family names offers a privileged source to approach its study when they are transmitted from one generation to the following under the same form and with fixed rules. Then, the emergence of new names can only be explained by exceptions in the transmission rules, such as in-migration. The Barcelona area during the 16th century offers a privileged field for this kind of approach, because we have access to exceptional data: the family names of all men and most women getting married in the 90 parishes of the “Oficialitat of Barcelona” from 1481 to 1600 of the Barcelona Historical Marriage Database (BHMD) and the names of all household heads in Catalonia, by an enumeration of 1497 and other of 1553. Our contribution aims: 1) To compare the names of the wed (in a accumulative way) with the household heads in the enumeration of 1497 to detect the exact moment of appearance of new names. 2) To detect abnormal increases of certain family names which cannot be explained by natural dynamics and would suggest in-migration of persons wearing these names or the assignation of these names to new migrants. 3) To compare the new or inflated names with the maps of family names in 1497 and 1553, referring to the whole Catalonia to establish possible origins and allowing the isolation of the unexplainable ones, which could have more distant origins.

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Presented in Poster Session 1

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