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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

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

The name Franke comes from a name for 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.


The surname Franke was first found in the Domesday Book where bearers of the name Franke 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.

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Franke include Frank, Franks, Franke, Frankes, Frenk, Frink and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Franke 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 Franke History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the Franke 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.


Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Franke or a variant listed above:

Franke Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Robert Franke, who landed in Virginia in 1642
  • Hen Franke, who sailed to Virginia in 1653
  • Hen Franke, who arrived in Virginia in 1653
  • Tho Franke, who arrived in Virginia in 1658

Franke Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Thos Franke, who landed in Virginia in 1714
  • Christina Franke, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1742
  • Christopher Franke, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1742
  • Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Franke went to Philadelphia in 1793
  • Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Franke, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1793

Franke Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Christian Franke moved to Baltimore in 1832 when he was 13 years old
  • Peter Franke, who arrived in America in 1833
  • Bernh Heinr Anton Franke, who landed in America in 1837
  • Joh W Franke, who arrived in Indiana in 1837
  • Samuel Franke, who landed in America in 1839

Franke Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Samuel Heinrich Franke, aged 26, a farmer, arrived in South Australia in 1847 aboard the ship "Hermann von Beckerath"


  • Major-General Gustav Henry Franke (1888-1953), American Member of the War Department Dependency Board (1942)
  • Bob Franke (b. 1947), American folk singer/songwriter
  • Jay Anthony Franke (b. 1972), American actor, voice actor and musician
  • William B. Franke (1894-1979), American financial manager, U.S. Secretary of the Navy 1959-1961
  • Christopher Franke (b. 1953), German musician and composer
  • Werner Franke (b. 1940), German professor of cell and molecular biology
  • Josef Franke (1876-1944), German architect
  • Jens Franke (b. 1964), German mathematician
  • Herbert W. Franke (b. 1927), German science fiction writer
  • Herbert Franke (b. 1914), German sinologist, co-author of the Cambridge History of China



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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  2. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
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  6. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  7. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  8. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  9. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  10. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  11. ...

The Franke Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Franke 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 10 March 2016 at 12:40.

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