I estimate that the Oxford Dictionary of Surnames by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges (also published as part of the Oxford Names Companion) contains about 35,000 surnames with their etymologies or origins. Yet the number of surnames in Britain must be many more than that, judging by names that crop up in the news but are not to be found in the ODS. And that is without considering names of recent arrivals from other countries. If we add in other English-speaking countries, particularly the United States, the number of current surnames is very large indeed.
The current crop of Members of Parliament includes one Michael Dugher. I came across his name in the newspaper and was wondering how it would be pronounced. It looks vaguely Gaelic: compare Irish dúghlas ‘dark green’ and its Scottish Gaelic equivalent, which have given us Douglas. But it is not to be found in the ODS.
Thanks to Jo Kim for pointing me to a short video clip in which Mr Dugher says his own name as he identifies himself. This is part of a series of brief goodwill messages from MPs to British troops serving abroad.
As you can hear, he pronounces his surname with the STRUT vowel, as if it were spelt Dugger. As a dictionary entry we would write ˈdʌɡə. Since he speaks with a noticeable northern accent (born and raised in Doncaster, south Yorkshire), he makes no distinction between the STRUT and FOOT vowels, so that this actually comes out more as ˈdəɡə, ˈdʊ̈ɡə.
The preceding clip on the same website is spoken by Mary Creagh, MP for a neighbouring constituency. She says her name as kreɪ, which is what you would expect. According to the ODS this is a variant of Cray, and is an anglicized form of Irish Ó Craoibhe ‘descendant of the curly-headed/prolific one’.
Another MP with a northern accent (born in Rochdale, Lancs.) is Simon Danczuk. He pronounces his name as ˈdæntʃək. (Is the second vowel his STRUT vowel or his schwa weak vowel? This is perhaps a meaningless question. In any case, on the clip he devoices it completely.) This name is not in ODS. It looks as if it would be a Polish diminutive of Dan(iel).
Such video clips offer a useful type of straight-from-the-horse's-mouth resource that was simply not available to lexicographers until very recently.