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How Irish immigrants almost killed Patrick and Bridget

Published 21/10/2009

Irish Roman Catholic names such as Patrick and Bridget almost died out among 19th-century Irish immigrants in Britain due to fear of discrimination, according to research published today.

A fear of prejudice made them steer clear of giving their children Irish Catholic names, a trend also seen in today's society among other immigrant communities elsewhere in the world.

The study, by researchers at Durham and Northumbria universities, looked at over 30,000 records, and found the number of Irish Catholic names was dramatically lower among the second generation Irish in all 17 English and Welsh counties studied, while the frequencies of English Protestant names went up.

In other studies, some from the modern day, similar trends are found for the Turkish community in Germany, Indians in Australia, and Irish migrants in the United States, say the authors.

The researchers compared the frequency of first names among first and second generation Irish at the 1881 census of England and Wales of 17 counties that were chosen for their substantial Irish-born populations.

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