Surname Distribution Analyzed

Before we analyze the data to comprehend its meaning, let’s do a bit more research to see if we can validate the existing data.

Let’s check in with the United States Census Bureau which has analyzed names by frequency of occurrence from the 1990 census.

When we search for Gines and then Guynes, the following values are produced:

GINES             0.001   74.431  13779
GUYNES         0.000   79.626  23782

The first number represents the frequency of occurrence of the name in the population sample.  Thus, the name Gines was possessed by 0.001% of the population sample.  The name Guynes was possessed by less than 0.001% of the population sample (and since the values are valid only to three decimal points, there is no significant per cent of the population sample with that name).

The second number represents the percentage of the population covered by the name and those occurring more frequently than the name.  We can see that by the time we get to Gines on the list of most frequently occurring names, we will have covered 74.413% of the population sample.  For Guynes, we will have covered close to 80% of the population.

The third number is the rank of the name in terms of frequency of occurrence in the population sample.  From this we see that Gines ranks 13,779th in frequency; Guynes is the 23,782nd frequently occurring name.

For the methodology used by the Census Bureau, see here.

Keeping in mind that the census name frequency data is based on 1990 input, let’s do some more validation with different data and different methods.

A site called Dynastree came to my attention recently via Randy Seaver.  It is a German-based concern which is attempting to compete in the social/family network arena.  Dynastree has a name distribution tool.

About the name Gines, Dynastree says:

In the US there are 414 phone book entries with the surname Gines and approximately 1,491 persons with this name.
Thus, the surname Gines the 20532nd most frequent name in the US.
People with this surname live in 39 states. Most occurrences are in Utah: 103.
Other states with lots of occurrences are California (49), New York (32), Illinois (22), Florida (21), Idaho (16), Hawaii (16), Texas (15), Missouri (13), as well as Washington (11).

These data give Gines a higher place on the frequency ladder and generally comports with our observations about geographical distribution.  Now, let’s filter out the non-African-American persons from the Dynastree data.   Utah’s Gines population is largely LDS and white, as is Idaho’s.  California’s is mainly Filipino.   New York’s is primarily Puerto Rican.  Florida’s Gineses are Hispanic.  Hawaii’s are mostly Filipino.  Texas is just about evenly split between Hispanic and African-American people with the Gines surname.  So we have left Missouri, Illinois and we know from that Louisiana and Mississippi historically have had large numbers of African-American people named Gines.

About Guynes, Dysnatree tells us:

In the US there are 399 phone book entries with the surname Guynes and approximately 1.437 persons with this name.

Thus, the surname Guynes the 21185th most frequent name in the US.

People with this surname live in 30 states. Most occurrences are in Texas: 182.

Other states with lots of occurrences are Mississippi (42), California (35), Louisiana (31), Arkansas (17), Oklahoma (13), Tennessee (9), Virginia (6), Colorado (5), as well as New Mexico (5).

These data are broadly consistent with our prior findings.  We thus have potential overlapping populations of black Gines and black Guynes in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Concerning the Dynastree methodology, we should be mindful of what is said on the World Names Profiler site:  telephone books are skewed in favor of male heads of households.  Female cohabitants often are not listed and children usually are not listed.

So what conclusions can we draw?  First, the obvious one: the name Gines is extremely rare.  Second, from the patterns of distribution, people in particular clusters are most likely related in some fashion. This does not necessarily mean a blood kinship. Thus, for example, we can be fairly sure that a person named Gines living in Nevada is probably related to the LDS Gineses and probably not to the African-American Gineses who live in Louisiana. (N.b.: This, of course, is a broad generalization which simply is more often true than not true, but which is not a sure bet.  My cousin Trudy Gines is an African-American who lives in Las Vegas).

Third conclusion:  The name Guynes probably originated as a misspelling of the Gines name.  There are several bits of data which support this theory; primarily is the fact that the name is not found anywhere except in the United States and it’s not known to be an American Indian name.

One point of this is to decide whether, when researching Gines, it would prove fruitful to research Guynes as well.  The other thing is that these distribution patterns tell where searching may be most likely to pay off.  These tools have to be used in connection with other information, such as census data, to get an historical perspective.

Here’s an historical view of the Gines surname in America:

Gines in 1880

Gines in 1880

Gines in 1990

Gines in 1990

The westward migration and growth of the LDS Church is reflected above, as well as movement of Filipinos to Hawaii.

I realize that these examples have lacked mathematical precision, but viewed intuitively, they suggest a connection between these surnames and among the people in the various clusters.

"Gines" Distribution in North America

"Gines" Distribution in North America

"Guynes" Distribution in North America

"Guynes" Distribution in North America

Gines Distribution in North America in "Absolute Numbers"

Gines Distribution in North America in "Absolute Numbers"

Gines surnamed individuals in Louisiana are almost all related to me; it’s likely that most of  those in Mississippi also are related to me.

In another post, I’ll show a good example  of how surname distribution helps track migration.


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8 Responses to “Surname Distribution Analyzed”

  • K Bryant says:

    Here’s a website that describes the part of France which carries the family name. Let’s not forget that before surnames person from towns, villages and counties/capets/kingdoms where known by these geographic names, i.e. John of Guines.

    But, wait a minute! Why’s this Bryant making a comment here? Well, this website also carries the history of the royalty in the area. It just so happens that ancient Bryants/Briennes were Counts d’ Eu. My ancestors were French Huguenots. Also, I match very closely to a GAINES by DNA. Just close in the top of the “u” in Guines and you have GAINES or GOINES/GOINS.

    In the 1300’s, the King of France and the King of England (Henry VIII) got together by the small village of Guines/Guynes and partied for a week. What did they do for entertainment? Guy things? I’m sure that the locals were conscripted to provide “services” for this party.

  • J Guynes says:

    Please note to any Guynes finding this webpage: The origin of the white Copiah Guynes/Goyne has not been proven or disproven. They may or may not be of some mixed race or melungion (genetic) background from either parent. Historic (old) deeds and other information point to the possible or likely connection to “other free” Goin, Goings and “Gowen”. That is all.

    There was at least one Gowen from England who emigrated to Virginia in very early colonial times, as well as French Huguenots which may have included a Goyne. There were also Goyne in England. There may have been undocumented Scottish Gowen who were shipped to Virginia as a captives during the English-Scots wars (Braveheart). (Such a shipment was supposed to occur, but it is unknown if it did.)

    The origin of Guynes is still uncertain.

  • J Guynes says:

    I apologize for the drafting error.

    The Turks (and possibly Moors) were being brought over to “New Spain” (Mexico) as slaves by the Spanish, when at least one ship was captured by the English. Some of the Turkish were brought back to England and ransomed back to Turkey. It is thought that some of the captured Turks (and Moors?) were left at the lost colony of Roanoke, Virginia/North Carolina. There is a history of Islam in the culture of some of the Native Americans, as well as many other fascinating indications of Turkish/Mediterranaean/Moorish/Islamic people in the earliest of times in the colonies and Indian polulation.

    “Gowen” people of color may be descendants of the free racially mixed first people in the New World, or, less likely, may be descendants of slaves.

    I obtained all of my information by doing online searches. You can too.

    I hope this helps

    J Guynes

  • J Guynes says:

    All or virtually all Guynes descend from John and Matilda Guynes of Copiah County, Mississippi (1800’s) . John Guynes changed his name from Goyne to Guynes. (Or, the spelling change occured by a legal or court transcription) The Goyne (with many other spellings) were in the South since at least the mid 1700’s and probably earlier. John Guynes’ father was in the revolutionary war (from Virginia) and there is a pension application online for him.

    There is no particular history of the Guynes (or Goyne) being French Huegenots, even though the name appears French.

    The name Goyne appears to be or could be of Norman nature. There is/was a medieval town of Guynes in France, but the surname of Guynes in America only seems to appear in connection with John Goyne/Guynes and his descendants. This is probably a very rare occurrence, that everyone with this surname knows that they must be a descendant of one man.

    It is believed, from a lot of research over the years by many people that the Guynes/Goyne/Goin/Gowan are descendants of the first Africans (John Gaween or Gowen in Jamestown) in the colonies, and that some may descend as well from Turks and others captured during the conflicts with the Ottomon Empire, and sent to Mexico as slaves– the slave ship being captured by the Spanish and some slaves left in the Roanoke colony prior to Jamestown. There is fascinating research and DNA testing being done on this. Check online.

    The Gowen likely lived with the native Indians, and intermixed with each other, creating multi-racial offshoots.

    If you find that Gines is a variation of “Gowen”, you may be in this interesting “family tree”. Contact Jack Goin (he has online webpage) if you think you are a new branch.

    If you are a Guynes, check out the Guynes family tree at posted by larrycrfrd Larry Crawford ( He has been working for many years on an extensive family tree (including census records). This rootsweb site is free to use and access. He also runs a private Guynes family website.

    I was not aware that there were also Gines. If there are African Americans Gines, perhaps there is a slavery connection, as some Guynes did own slaves.

    However, the surname Guynes is widely pronounced as Goo-winz (long i). It is only prounced Ginz (long i) in a very few places. So it seems like Gines may not be related to Guynes.

    There is a lot of free census information available online now through Heritage Quest, which can be accessed through many public library memberships. The Guynes appear in Copiah County MS census records.

    If anyone finds a connection between Goyne/Guynes and Gines, please post a reply here.

    I hope this is helpful

    J Guynes

    Thank you

  • Dear Craig,

    My name is Nils Schnelle, I am in charge of community management at I gladly noticed you mentioned us in your blog and hence wanted to let you know about dynastree’s latest updates. We deployed a new version, and now feature a Turkish version as well. There are now also surname maps for Canada, and you can sort them by timezone for the US.
    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require additional information or material.


    Nils Schnelle

  • […] spellings because the same persons sometimes end up with several of the spellings over time. [See here to figure out another way we know the difference between variant spellings and “true” variations in […]

  • Craig says:

    Thanks, Karen. You are always so full of great information! I really wasn’t all that good at stats in school! If there’s a Huguenot connection, it’ll be the second one I’ve come across in researching my mother’s family. You may recall that my gg-grandmother was Syntrilla Brayboy LeJay and her husband was Lewis LeJay, born in South Carolina. The LeJay family originally had arrived in Carolina in 1685 (after perhaps a stay in England) and were Huguenots.

  • Karen Burney says:

    Wow, great job, Craig. I feel like I’m back at college in my Statistics and Probability class.

    You might want to check out the Scottish and English records on The Guynes family line dates back to at least the 1400’s. It also appears in France, in particular amongst the French Hugenots (members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France or French Calvinists) Keep in mind that a vast # of Scots settled in France which might account for the Guynes name there.

    I talked to that attorney I mentioned and her family claims french ancestry too.

    Good luck!

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