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Available inEnglish, Dutch French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish
Founded20 June 2012[1]
HeadquartersBački Monoštor, Serbia[1]
Alexa rank24,337[2]

Forebears is a genealogy website that catalogs online genealogy sources by locality, but is primarily known for its surname mapping feature. It is the 7th most visited genealogy website by visitor numbers[3] and is based in Serbia.



The main service of the website is a facility displaying the distribution of given names and surnames, their meaning and demographic statistics relating to their bearers[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]. Initially, geospatial data was available from the 1881 United Kingdom census, showing the distribution of surnames by county. This was supplemented in April 2013, when data from the 1901 Ireland census was added. In September 2014 Forebears launched the first global surname mapping facility, covering 227 states and territories. Prior to the launch, the largest mapping facility had been Public Profiler, a project headed by the University College London's Paul Longley, which covers 26 sovereign states. Since periodic updates have been made to the facility. It currently covers 236 states and territories, over 27 million surnames and is extrapolated from a database of over 4 billion people[12]. In 2019 data for over 28 million given names were added.

The geospatial data is provided in the form of an interactive map and table form. It shows name distribution at the continental, national and up to four levels of depth in administrative subdivisions within nations. For example, distribution can be viewed within South Africa at the provincial, district and local levels.

The service contains over 172,000 descriptions of surnames, in eight languages[13]. Most are produced from third party sources, while others are submitted by website visitors or produced in-house.

In February 2019 demographic details were added for surnames and later given names. These cover four dimensions in various countries: average salary, political affiliation, religion and height[14].

The data is used heavily by genealogists[15][16] (particularly genetic genealogists) and referenced by around 100 members of The Guild of One-Name Studies[17]. Name distribution data from Forebears has been referenced in over 70 published academic papers[18]. It is often cited on Twitter and 4chan in the aftermath of a terrorist attack or mass shooting in an attempt to identify the ethnicity of the suspect[19].

Genealogical Resources

Forebears categorize online genealogical resources in a similar way to Cyndi's List. The key differentiation between the two is Cyndi's List categorizes resources by region, while Forebears is more focused on locality, specifically Civil parish #Ancient_Parishes in the British Isles. It primarily indexes parish records.

In the media

External link

official website


  1. 1.0 1.1 "About Forebears". Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  2. "Site Overview,". Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  3. " Analysis". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  4. "Surname mapping website reveals where you come from". Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  5. "Where does your name come from". DailyMail. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  6. "What does your name mean?". The Independent. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  7. "This site will tell you how common your surname is worldwide". SF Gate. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  8. "Find out how many people have your surname". Metro. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  9. "This amazing website will tell you how common your surname is". The Sun. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  10. "Ancestry Website Forebears Will Reveal How Many People Share Your Surname". Yahoo News. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  11. "Here's a Global Heatmap of People with Your Last Name". Vice. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  12. "About Forebears Names". Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  13. "About Forebears Name Meanings". Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  14. "Average Salary Added to 1.3 Million Surnames". Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  15. Emm, Adele (2015). Tracing Your Trade & Craftsman Ancestors, p. 187-188. Penn and Sword. Barnsley, UK. ISBN 1473823625.
  16. Helm, Matthew L. and Helm, April Leigh (2017). Genealogy for Dummies, p. 37. John Wiley & Sons. Hobooken, NJ. ISBN 1119411963.
  17. "Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 12, Issue 7". The Guild of One-Name Studies. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  18. "Google Scholar Articles". Google Scholar. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  19. "4chan search". Retrieved 2020-03-13.

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