Home   |   Customer Service   |   Site Map   |   Name Search   |   How To Buy

Shopping Cart
0 Items
FREE SHIPPING on orders of $85 or more
An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the German Au family come from? 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, as hereditary surnames began to be adopted, 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.


Many cultural groups lived in the German states in medieval times. Each had its own dialect and traditions, and unique variations of popular names. Low German, which is similar to contemporary Dutch, was spoken in Westphalia. German names are characterized by additions such as regional suffixes and phrases that tell something about the origin or background of its original bearer. Further contributing to the variation in German names was the fact that there were no spelling rules in medieval times: scribes recorded names according to their sound. The recorded spelling variations of 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.


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.


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


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 United States in the 18th Century

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



  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Strassburger, Ralph B. Pennsylvania German Pioneers The Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia 3 Volumes. Baltimore: Picton Press, 1992. Print. (ISBN 978-0929539980).
  3. Bahlow, Hans. Deutschlands geographische Namenwelt Etymologisches Lexikon der Fluss- und Ortsnamen alteuropaischer Herkunft. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1985. Print.
  4. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  5. Brechenmacher, Josef Karlmann. Deutches Namenbuch. Stuttgart: Verlag von Adolf Bonz & Comp, 1928. Print.
  6. Gottschald, Max. Deutsche Namenkunde unsere Familiennamen nach ihrer Entstehung und Bedeutung. München: J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, 1932. Print.
  7. Tobler-Meyer, Wilhelm. Familiennamen der Ostschweiz. Zürich: 1894. Print.
  8. Steed, Henry Wickham . The Hapsburg Monarchy. London: Constable and Company, 1919. Print.
  9. Nied, Edmund. Fraenkische Familiennamen urkundlich gesammelt und sprachlich gedeutet. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1933. Print.
  10. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  11. ...

This page was last modified on 15 April 2015 at 15:38.

Sign Up

FREE SHIPPING on orders of $85 or more