Show ContentsEarnest History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Earnest surname is thought to derive from the Old High German word "ernus," which meant "fight." As such, Earnest 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.

Early Origins of the Earnest family

The surname Earnest was 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.

Early History of the Earnest family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Earnest research. Another 234 words (17 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 Earnest History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Earnest Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the Earnest family (pre 1700)

Prominent among members of the name Earnest in this period include Georg Ernst of Limburg Stirum, (died 1666), Count of Limburg Stirum, Count of Bronckhorst, Lord of Wisch, Lichtenvoorde and Wildenborch; Christian Ernst of...
Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Earnest Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Earnest Ranking

In the United States, the name Earnest is the 4,754th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [1]

United States Earnest migration to the United States +

German settlers were among the most common to come to North America between the mid-17th and mid-20th centuries. Poverty and religious persecution drove many Bavarians to make this long trek. tenant farmers were also enticed by the prospect of owning land. From east to west, these German immigrants populated the United States, settling in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. Ontario and the prairie provinces of Canada also provided homes to many. Early settlers bearing the Earnest surname or a spelling variation of the name include:

Earnest Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Matthias F Earnest, who arrived in Maryland in 1813 [2]
  • John Earnest, who landed in Virginia in 1887 [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Earnest (post 1700) +

  • Major-General Herbert Ludwell Earnest (1895-1970), American Commanding General 90th Division, North-West Europe (1945) [3]
  • Gray L. Earnest (b. 1957), former American football wide receiver
  • Woodall Earnest (b. 1959), American composer
  • Matthew Earnest (b. 1969), American theater director
  • Conrad Earnest, retired American soccer goalkeeper
  • William Earnest, American politician, Candidate for Representative from Alabama in the Confederate Congress 2nd District, 1861 [4]
  • James H. Earnest, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Wisconsin, 1860, 1876 [4]
  • Felix W. Earnest, American Democratic Party politician, Postmaster at Knoxville, Tennessee, 1856-57 [4]
  • Edwin B. Earnest, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Manchester, 1929; Edinburgh, 1932 [4]
  • E. T. Earnest, American politician, Mayor of Highland Park, Texas, 1953-54 [4]
  • ... (Another 2 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  3. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, January 24) Herbert Earnest. Retrieved from
  4. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from on Facebook