Melhuishs Around the World

As a surname with clear origins in England, more specifically in one county of England, it comes as no surprise to find it turning up in the other English-speaking nations of the world.


The map below shows the place of birth of many bearers of the Melhuish surname. It's scaled to concentrate on the majority of Melhuish births. To see people born outside Devon or Somerset, zoom out.

If your ancestors are not shown, you can add them by clicking the button below the map. Over time this will enable us to build up an even more comprehensive picture of the distribution of the Melhuish name.

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Frequency of the Surname

The Forebears website ( gives comprehensive worldwide data for 2014 which makes interesting reading. Ignoring the countries with tiny populations of Melhuishs, we find:

Country Incidence Frequency Rank
England 1,294 1 in 43,000 No 5,480
Wales 155 1 in 20,000 No 2,115
Australia 650 1 in 41,500 No 5,326
United States 282 1 in 1,285,000 No 90,259
Canada 145 1 in 254,000 No 24,080
New Zealand 134 1 in 33,800 No 5,839

So we can see that the frequency (or perhaps I should say "rarity") of the Melhuish name in Australia and New Zealand is roughly the same as in England, indicating that emigration of Melhuishs was similar to all other names. The name is much rarer in the United States and Canada, presumably reflecting the diverse origins of immigrants there. What is most interesting and unexpected (to me, at least) is that the name is twice as common in Wales as it is in England. When we move further down this page we will see that the Welsh population (especially in the 19th century) is heavily weighted to the south-east corner of the principality and therefore most close to Devon and Somerset.

To get a feel for the rarity of the Melhuish name, we can compare with a couple of others. The frequency of Smith in England is 1 in 88, and the frequency of Jones in Wales is 1 in 18!

Melhuish in England 2014
Wales 2014
Melhuish in England 2014
England 2014
Melhuish in England 1881
Wales 1881
Melhuish in England 1881
England 1881
As seen in the 2014 maps above, the hotspots in England are Devon, Somerset and London, with a fairly broad spread across the rest of the country, but biased to the southern half. In Wales, there remains a powerful hotspot in Cardiff and the surrounding area, with very few Melhuishs elsewhere.

Contrasting the modern distribution with 1881 we can see that Wales has changed little in that time but in England there has been a general migration from Devon and Somerset to the rest of the country in the past 140 years. Back in 1881 there were 3 times as many Melhuishs in Devon as there were in London. By 2014 London exceeded Devon by 50%.

Another highly recommended source for this type of data is Your Family History. It provides surname concentrations by county for all the available UK censuses (except 1921; perhaps that is coming soon). I have chosen to pick out just the 1841 and 1911 censuses to show here.

Melhuish in England and Wales 1841
1841 Census
Melhuish in England and Wales 1911
1911 Census
Although the same overall trends are clearly visible in the two sources, there are small discrepancies. Presumably this depends on how you count the occurrences: families or individuals? children as well as adults? Also, while Your Family History clearly takes its data from censuses, Forebears is less specific. In particular, where does the 2014 information come from?