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

Origins Available: English, German-Alt, German, Jewish, Scottish

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

The ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of England produced the name of Franks. It was given to a person who was referred to as being free or generous. The surname was originally derived from the Old French franc, which meant "liberal, generous." In this case, the name would have been initially bestowed as a nickname either on someone who was generous or in an ironic way on someone who was stingy. The surname also has origins from the Norman official title, the frank which also means free. To confuse matters more, the surname could have been derived from the Norman personal name "Franc," which was originally an ethnic name for one of Frankish race.

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One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Franks has appeared include Frank, Franks, Franke, Frankes, Frenk, Frink and many more.

First found in the Domesday Book where bearers of the name Franks were granted lands in Shropshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk, and Surrey. The name appears with some frequency in various counties between the 11th and 14th centuries; early bearers of the name include Ricardus filius Franke, who was living in London in 1188, and Ricardus Franc, who was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls of Essex in 1201.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Franks research. Another 171 words(12 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1613, 1664, 1640, 1775, 1624 and 1708 are included under the topic Early Franks History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 77 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Franks Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Franks family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 47 words(3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Franks arrived in North America very early:

Franks Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Pr, Franks Sr., who landed in Maryland in 1658
  • Ann Franks, who arrived in Virginia in 1662
  • Pr Franks Sr., who arrived in Maryland in 1668

Franks Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Jacob Franks, who came to Georgia in 1735
  • Moses Benjamin Franks, who arrived in New York in 1748
  • Moses Benjn Franks, who arrived in New York, NY in 1748
  • H B Franks, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1755
  • David Franks, who arrived in New York in 1798

Franks Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Franks, who arrived in New York in 1838
  • Hamer Franks, aged 30, landed in Missouri in 1848
  • W H Hackman Franks, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Samuel Franks, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1850
  • Henry Franks, aged 19, arrived in New York, NY in 1852


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  • William Joseph Franks (b. 1830), United States Navy sailor, recipient of the Medal of Honor, eponym of the USS Franks (DD-554)
  • Robert Douglas Franks (b. 1951), former U.S. Representative from New Jersey
  • Daniel Lamont "Bubba" Franks (b. 1978), American NFL football tight end
  • Frederick Melvin Franks Jr., retired General of the United States Army
  • Tillman B. Franks (1920-2006), American bassist, and songwriter
  • General Tommy Ray Franks (b. 1945), Retired United States General and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Brigadier-General John Brandon Franks (1890-1946), American Acting Director of International Division, Army Service Forces (1942-1943)
  • Sir Arthur Temple "Dick" Franks (1920-2008), Head of the Secret Intelligence Service from 1979 to 1982
  • Oliver Shewell Franks (1905-1992), Baron Franks, an English public servant and philosopher
  • Paul John Franks (b. 1979), English cricketer


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  • The Lee Max Friedman Collection of American Jewish Colonial Correspondence: Letters of the Franks Family, 1733-1748 by Abigail Franks.
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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Non nobis nati
Motto Translation: Born not for ourselves

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  1. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  2. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  3. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  4. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  5. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  6. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  7. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  8. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. 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).
  11. ...

The Franks Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Franks 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 11 September 2013 at 15:22.

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