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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the German Au family come from? What is the German Au family crest and coat of arms? When did the Au family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Au family history?

The Au family name first began to be used in the German state of Bavaria. After the 12th century, hereditary surnames were adopted according to fairly general rules, and names that were derived from locations became particularly common. The family name Au is a local surname. Originally denoting the proprietorship of an estate or influence within a village, the German preposition von, which means from or of, used with local names, was taken as a mark of aristocracy. The surname Au was given to someone who lived in a wooded area, meadow, or pasture. The name stems from the German word Aue, which means woods or meadow. The name von der Aue gained widespread recognition from Hartmann von der Aue, who was a renowned poet of the 12th and 13th centuries. After the 13th century, the name Au became particularly popular in Bavaria, which was the primary location of seven noble families bearing this name. The Au family possessed vast estates and resided in an elegant feudal home in Bavaria. They also played an influential role in the social, economic and political development of the region.

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In the medieval era, many different cultural groups lived in the German states. There are thus many regional variations of German surnames from that era. Westphalians spoke Low German, which is similar to modern Dutch. Many German names carry suffixes that identify where they came from. Others have phrases attached that identify something about the original bearer. Other variations in German names resulted from the fact that medieval scribes worked without the aid of any spelling rules. The spelling variations of the name Au include Auer, Auers, Auerr, Auerre, Aur, Aure, Aurr and many more.

First found in Bavaria, where the Auer family name is considered to have made an early contribution to the feudal society which became the backbone of early development in Europe. The name became prominent in local affairs and branched into many houses which played important roles in the savage tribal and national conflicts, as each group sought political supremacy. The name derives from the German word "Aue," which means meadow or pasture. Hartmann von der Aue ("of or from the meadow") was a renowned poet of the 12th and 13th centuries, and the name von der Aue gained widespread designation for those living in a wooded or pastured area. The name was particularly popular in Bavaria, which was the primary location of seven noble families bearing this name, dating back to the 13th century.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Au research. Another 230 words(16 lines of text) covering the years 1502, 1639, 1761, and 1767 are included under the topic Early Au History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 23 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Au Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The great European flow of migration to North America, which began in the middle of the 17th century and continued into the 20th century, was particularly attractive to those from Bavaria who wished to escape either poverty or religious persecution. For many Bavarian tenant farmers, the chance to own their own land was a major incentive. So the widespread colonization of the United States began in 1650, when many immigrants from Germany settled in pockets in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. In Canada, German settlement centered in Ontario and the prairie provinces. Among those of this surname listed in various historical records were:

Au Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Johann Henrich Au, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1764
  • Ludwig Au, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1774

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  1. Brechenmacher, Josef Karlmann. Deutches Namenbuch. Stuttgart: Verlag von Adolf Bonz & Comp, 1928. Print.
  2. Neubecker, Ottfried. Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon der bürgerlichen Geschlechter Deutschlands, Oesterreichs und der Schweiz. Battenberg, München: 1985. Print.
  3. Schenk, Trudy. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index Volume I-VIII. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1986. Print.
  4. Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. Journeys German Immigration, Settlement and Political Culture in Colonial America 1717-1775. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. Print. (ISBN 978-0812215489).
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  7. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  8. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  9. Haverkamp, Alfred. Medieval Germany 1056-1273 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print.
  10. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  11. ...

The Au Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Au Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 16 January 2014 at 21:42.

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