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

Origins Available: German, Swiss

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

The Ernst surname is thought to derive from the Old High German word "ernus," which meant "fight." As such, Ernst was most likely originally a nickname for a person or family whose defining characteristic is a serious demeanor or temperament. Nickname surnames were a class of German names derived from "eke-names," or "added names," that described people by a personal characteristic or other attribute.

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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 Ernst include Ernst, Ernste, Ernest, Errnst, Ernesten, Arnst, Aernst, Arnest and many more.

First found in Bavaria, where the family emerged in mediaeval times as one of the notable families of the region. From the 13th century the surname was identified with the great social and economic evolution which made this territory a landmark contributor to the development of the nation.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ernst research. Another 467 words(33 lines of text) covering the years 1682, 1773, 1786, 1556, 1624, 1798, 1787, 1666, 1644, 1712, 1695, 1716, 1664, 1719, 1675 and 1688 are included under the topic Early Ernst History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 111 words(8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ernst 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:

Ernst Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Martin Ernst, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1732
  • Joseph Ernst, who arrived in Georgia in 1734-1741
  • Johann Ludwig Ernst, who landed in Georgia in 1734-1741
  • Joseph Ernst, who settled in Georgia in 1735 with his wife Anna Maria and daughter Susannah
  • Felix Ernst, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1735


Ernst Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • A H Ernst, who landed in Ohio in 1807
  • Andreas H Ernst, who landed in Ohio in 1816
  • Zacharias Ernst, who arrived in Ohio in 1816
  • Wilhelm Ernst, aged 32, landed in New York, NY in 1832
  • Philip Ernst, who landed in New York in 1833


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  • W Gary Ernst (b. 1931), American geologist specializing in petrology and geochemistry
  • Karl Friedrich Paul Ernst (1866-1933), German writer, dramatist, critic and journalist
  • Max Ernst (1891-1976), German painter, one of the founders of Surrealism German
  • Gustav Ernst (b. 1944), Austrian playwright, novelist and screenwriter
  • Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1814-1865), Moravian-Jewish violinist and composer who achieved renown in England
  • Richard Robert Ernst (b. 1933), Swiss physical chemist and Nobel Laureate (1991)


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  • Friedrich Ernst of Industry: Research on Life, Family, Acquaintances, and Conditions of the Time by Miriam Korff York.
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  1. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  2. Tarneller, Josef. Zur Namenkunde Tirolen Familiennamen. Bozen: Buchhandlung, 1923. Print.
  3. Kapff, Rudolf. Schwäbische Geschlechtsnamen. Stuttgart: Verlag Silberburg, 1927. Print.
  4. Schenk, Trudy. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index Volume I-VIII. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1986. Print.
  5. Bahlow, Hans. Deutschlands geographische Namenwelt Etymologisches Lexikon der Fluss- und Ortsnamen alteuropaischer Herkunft. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1985. Print.
  6. Kneschke, Dr. Ernest Heinrich. Neues allgemeines Deutsches Adels-Lexicon 9 Volumes New General German Aristocracy Lexicon. Leipzig: Friedrich Voigt, 1859. Print.
  7. Garland, Mary and Henry Garland Editions. Oxford Companion To German Literature 3rd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print. (ISBN 0198158963).
  8. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  9. 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).
  10. Bahlow, Hans. Abhandlungen zur Namenforschung und Buchgeschichte. 1980. Print. (ISBN 978-3768690522).
  11. ...

The Ernst Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ernst 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 26 February 2014 at 23:03.

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